When Kevin Ryan took over for Sister Mary Rose as president of Covenant House International, former first lady Barbara Bush minced no words about her expectations of him.
Bush, throughout her time as the first lady and her life after the White House, remained dedicated to the organization, which helps kids who are homeless and runaways.
Ryan shared on Facebook that when Rose died and he assumed the position, Bush was “direct.”
“You have big shoes to fill,” he wrote that she told him. Then she added two words that summed up her expectations of his work: “Fill them.”
Ryan added that she sparked three generations of Bush “advocacy and support” and pointed to former President George W. Bush’s daughter, Barbara Bush, who is on the board of directors.
He labeled Bush’s granddaughter “one of the planet’s most effective and passionate humanitarians” and added that “the apple didn’t fall far from the tree.”
“She’s our beloved supporter and ally, and we’re grateful for her life,” he concluded.
Bush mentioned Covenant House multiple times in her memoir. During a convocation speech at Morehouse College, she called the children fighting for their lives at Covenant House and other organizations “our fight.”
Since assuming her political role, the former first lady established herself as a champion of America’s youth, including in the areas of literacy and HIV/AIDS.
In 1989, while the world feared to come in contact with an HIV/AIDS victim, Bush scooped up a child who was HIV-positive and gave her a kiss.
As the world mourns her death, there is hope in the values she instilled in her own family and the example she set for the country.