Jenna Welch, mother of former First Lady Laura Bush and grandmother to Jenna Bush Hager and Barbara Pierce Bush, died on Friday at 99

By Maria Pasquini
May 12, 2019 11:00 AM
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Jenna Hawkins Welch, the maternal grandmother of Jenna Bush Hager and her twin sister Barbara Pierce Bush, has died. She was 99.

On Sunday, in a touching tribute to Welch, the Today co-host, 37, reflected on her “precious namesake,” who died on Friday.

“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 wrote on Instagram, alongside a slideshow of family photos, including one sweet shot showing four generations of the famous family. In the image, Welch posed with her daughter Laura, her granddaughter Bush Hager, and one of her great-granddaughters.

“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,” continued Bush Hager, who is currently pregnant with her third child.

The star also shared that she felt “so happy” her grandmother was being “reunited with her great love, our Pa, after almost 25-years apart.”

In one last final note, she shared that her thoughts were also with her mother Laura, “who lost her little mama right before Mother’s Day.”

Jenna Bush Hager and Jenna Welch

In her own loving tribute, the former first lady shared that she was “dearly” missing her mother.

“This Mother’s Day, I’m remembering my mother, who passed away at the age of 99 on Friday morning. Jenna Hawkins Welch was a true daughter of West Texas who loved her family, books, and nature. My memories of reading with her and stargazing under the Midland sky are reminders of the passions that she nurtured in me. Our family is grateful for her long and wonderful life. We miss her dearly,” she wrote, alongside a snapshot of her late mother.

According to her obituary, published on Sunday in the Dallas News, Welch died on Friday in Midland, Texas.

Welch married her husband Harold in January 1944, shortly before he went off to Europe to fight in World War II. He would return two years later, and that November, the couple went on to welcome daughter Laura, who would go on to marry former President George W. Bush.

Following a battle with cancer and dementia, Welch’s husband died in 1995.

A family funeral service for Welch was held on May 11 in Midland, Texas.

She is survived by her daughter Laura, son-in-law George, as well as her granddaughters Barbara Pierce Bush and Bush Hager, and the television host’s great-granddaughters, Poppy Louise, 3½, and Margaret “Mila” Laura, 6.

In a sweet post from November 2018, Bush Hager shared that she was “holding onto” her namesake relative.

“She never graduated from college but never stopped learning: she taught me every constellation in the night sky and about beautiful foreign lands she would never get visit,” she wrote, sharing photos from a recent visit with Welch.

In the first picture, the mother of two grasps her maternal grandmother’s hand. In the second picture, Bush Hager leans in to deliver a smooch on Welch’s cheek.

“I loved seeing her today in Midland,” Bush Hager added.

Their time together was particularly special to Bush Hager, as her dad’s mother Barbara Bush, her twin sister namesake, had died that April at age 92.

Jenna Bush Hager and Jenna Welch
Jenna Hager/Instagram
Jenna Bush Hager and Jenna Welch
Jenna Hager/Instagram

That May, Bush Hager made mention of both of her grandmothers in a letter to her daughters in Southern Living.

“[I] think about my strong mama and my grandmas — the women who came before me,” she wrote. “And I am so grateful that you are mine.”