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Bush’s Family Big Enough For Football Team - And Baseball Team

November 11, 1988

WASHINGTON (AP) _ George Bush’s immediate family - kids, spouses and grandchildren - is so big they’ve got enough for a football team and a baseball team at the same time.

With four sons and a daughter, Bush has one of the largest families of any president in recent times. All his children are married, and they have produced 10 grandchildren for Bush and his wife, Barbara.

Bush, 64, himself one of five children, openly boasts about his kids, who have scattered across the country to pursue their own careers in business and politics.

The vice president once said the thing that made him most proud in life was that his ″children still come home.″

The Bushes are a tightly knit clan, though the president-elect acknowledges they come out of a somewhat ″conservative tradition″ in which people tend to be reserved about displaying affection publicly.

Jeb Bush, 35, Bush’s second son, once said their father was away a lot when the children were growing up but ″if anything ever went wrong in my life, Dad would be right there to help.″

″Mom was always the one to hand out the goodies and the discipline,″ said Jeb, a real estate developer in Miami, and, until recently, Florida’s secretary of commerce. ″In a sense, it was a matriarchal family.″

Mrs. Bush, a full-time homemaker, devoted herself to running the house and raising her children.

Though Mrs. Bush handled family matters, Bush has said that his office aides always knew ″when any of the kids called, no matter what I was doing, they should be put through.″ He said he spent time with the children individually on weekends, and he and his wife always considered their responsibility as parents their top priority.

Bush promised at the Republican National Convention in August to show the American people ″how much my great, strong, big family means to me.″ But he was also ridiculed for referring to three grandchildren as ″the little brown ones.″ Their mother, Jeb’s wife, Columba, was born in Mexico.

After the convention, Bush’s children, George Bush Jr., 42, of Midland, Texas; Jeb; Neil, 33, of Denver, Colo.; Marvin, 32, of Alexandria, Va.; and Dorothy LeBlond, 29, of Cape Elizabeth, Maine, spread out to campaign fulltime for their father’s presidential election.

George Jr., a Harvard Business School graduate and independent oil operator in Midland, was a top strategist in his father’s campaign. Married and the father of 6-year-old twin daughters, George Jr. once waged an unsuccessful campaign for Congress in Texas. He was a pilot in the Texas Air National Guard during the Vietnam War.

Jeb, a fluent Spanish speaker and a former Dade County Republican chairman, has frequently courted Hispanic voters. Trained as a banker, he once worked for Texas Commerce Bank in Caracas, Venezuela. His children are George, 12, Noelle, 11, and Jeb Jr., 5.

In the footsteps of his father and oldest brother, Neil is in the oil business in Denver. A graduate of Tulane University, he and his wife, Sharon, have two children, ages 2 and 4, and are expecting a third early next year.

Marvin, who graduated from the University of Virginia, is the only child who has stayed nearby his parents in the 1980s. An investment consultant, Marvin and his wife, Margaret, have a 2-year-old girl.

Dorothy LeBlond - ″Doro″ to her family - is married to a businessman, William LeBlond, and the mother of two children, Samuel, 4, and Nancy, 2. A graduate of the Katherine Gibbs School in Boston, Dorothy has frequently worked on her father’s campaigns. This year, she traveled around the country; in 1980, she answered telephones at her father’s headquarters when he ran unsuccessfully for president.

Dorothy was not the only daughter. The couple’s other daughter, Robin, born in 1949, died of leukemia when she was three. In his autobiography, ″Looking Forward,″ Bush wrote that the death had a profound impact on him. He said his faith helped sustain him.

″To this day, like every parent who has ever lost a child, we wonder why; yet we know that, whatever the reason, she is in God’s loving arms.″

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