In any event, the students registered their complaint with the administration, but neither demanded the invitation be withdrawn nor tried to shout Mrs. Bush down when she spoke. So she arrived at the podium on June 1, 1990, accompanied by Raisa Gorbachev, and not only spoke to Wellesley's class of 1990 about the kinds of things commencement speakers always talk about, but did so in the context of those who disagreed with her selection.
This speech was the source of the quote seen frequently in online tributes, in which Mrs. Bush urged the graduates not to forget the human relationships that made life truly matter:
"At the end of your life, you will never regret not having passed one more test, not winning one more verdict or not closing one more deal. You will regret time not spent with a husband, a child, a friend or a parent."It drew some applause at the time, as did her quote from the 1986 movie Ferris Bueller's Day Off. But it was a line closer to the end of her short talk that won the crowd that day.
“And who knows?" she began. "Somewhere out in this audience may even be someone who will one day follow in my footsteps, and preside over the White House as the president’s spouse...," she continued, setting the hook.
"...And I wish him well,” she finished, hauling the crowd to its feet with a roar from the graduates and an impish smile of her own at the response. Game, set and match.
She had a couple of more sentences left in closing, but she'd earned her Washington Post headline: "Barbara Bush, Wowing Wellesley." RIP, Mrs. Bush.