MIDLAND, Texas - Jenna Hawkins Welch, the mother of former first lady Laura Bush, died Friday, the Midland Reporter-Telegram reported. She was 99.
In a Facebook post Sunday, Bush wrote that her mother “was a true daughter of West Texas.”
Welch “loved her family, books, and nature,” Bush wrote. “My memories of reading with her and stargazing under the Midland sky are reminders of the passions that she nurtured in me.”
According to her obituary in the Midland Reporter-Telegram, Welch was born July 24, 1919, in Little Rock, Arkansas, and was raised in Canutillo, near El Paso, Texas. She attended the Texas College of Mines and Metallurgy (now known as the University of Texas at El Paso) for two years, before leaving school to work full time.
She met her husband, Harold Welch, when both worked at a dry goods store in El Paso, according to her obituary. They were married in January 1944 at Fort Bliss, Texas, and Harold Welch soon was shipped to Europe for combat duty during World War II.
After his return, the Welches moved from El Paso to Midland, where Laura Lane Welch Bush was born on Nov. 4, 1946.
According to her obituary, Jenna Welch was a Girl Scout troop leader, a Sunday school teacher at the First United Methodist Church of Midland and a member of the Midland Naturalist Society.
Her granddaughter, Jenna Bush Hager, went on social media to pay tribute.
“Waking up thinking of my precious namesake, Jenna Welch who passed away Friday,” Hager wrote on Instagram. “How lucky I was to be named after a woman who taught me how to slow down and appreciate every bird, and every plant in West Texas.
“Her kindness and graciousness were as expansive as the West Texas horizon.”
Waking up thinking of my precious namesake, Jenna Welch who passed away Friday. How lucky I was to be named after a woman who taught me how to slow down and appreciate every bird, and every plant in West Texas. She read us poetry and taught us about every constellation in the sky. Her kindness and graciousness were as expansive as the West Texas horizon. So happy she’s reunited with her great love, our Pa after almost 25-years apart. Thinking of my mama too who lost her little mama right before Mother’s Day.
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