Nancy Bush Ellis, the sister of former President George H.W. Bush and the aunt of former President George W. Bush, died on Sunday due to complications related to COVID-19.
Ellis, 94, died at an assisted living facility in Concord, Mass. Her son, Alexander Ellis, told The New York Times that she was hospitalized with a fever on Dec. 30 and tested positive for COVID-19.
Although her family made up a Republican dynasty, Ellis was an outspoken Democrat throughout her life. She served as head of the New England section of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, in addition to promoting environmental and antipoverty causes and championing the arts.
But Ellis “was a wonderfully energetic campaigner and cheerleader for her brother,” after George H.W. Bush announced that he was running for president in 1979, Ellis’s son told The Times.
Ellis also campaigned for her nephew, former President George W. Bush. She campaigned in the U.S. and internationally in London, Paris and Frankfurt, Germany, on behalf of the organization Republicans Abroad, which mobilizes Americans who live overseas to vote.
“She was a Democrat for whom family came first,” presidential historian Jon Meacham told The Times.
“She’s a part of this great American ethos that’s almost entirely gone,” he added. “She was the best kind of aristocrat. There was a sense of service without a shred of snobbery.”
The George and Barbara Bush Foundation on Twitter called Ellis “a remarkable woman who brought joy and light to the world.”
We are sad to share that President Bush’s beloved sister, Nancy Bush Ellis, has passed away. Our condolences and prayers are with the Ellis and Bush families as we remember a remarkable woman who brought joy and light to the world.
— George & Barbara Bush Foundation (@BushFdn) January 10, 2021
Ellis was born on Feb. 4, 1926 in Milton, Mass. She graduated from Vassar College in 1946, the same year she married Alexander Ellis Jr. The couple had four children.
She is survived by her children – Alexander, John Prescott Ellis, Josiah Wear Ellis and Nancy Walker Ellis Black – as well as nine grandchildren, 11 great-grandchildren and her brother, Johnathan James Bush.