In a Thursday, Aug. 22, 2013, file photo, former first lady Barbara Bush listens to a patient's question during a visit to the Barbara Bush Children's Hospital at Maine Medical Center in Portland, Maine. Credit: Robert F. Bukaty | AP

First lady Barbara Bush was remembered Tuesday night for her contribution to many aspects of life in Maine, especially children’s health care and literacy.

The Bush family has maintained a summer home at Walker’s Point in Kennebunkport for more than a century. The family’s connection to the state went beyond summering here.

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In 1995, Mrs. Bush and her husband, President George H.W. Bush, joined Maine Medical Center in Portland for the announcement that Maine’s only children’s hospital would be named in her honor.

“It is so very important to have a children’s hospital here in Maine,” Mrs. Bush said during the naming ceremony. “Children are society’s most precious asset, and their care must be among our highest priorities.”

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Maine Medical Center President Rich Petersen in a press release Tuesday remembered Mrs. Bush’s connection with the children and parents she met at the hospital.

“We all stood a little taller because we were associated with Mrs. Bush. Her unwavering support for children’s health and deep commitment to the hospital that bears her name moved many to share her passion and improve the health of our state’s youngest and most vulnerable patients,” he wrote.

U.S. Sen. Susan Collins remembered Mrs. Bush as an advocate for literacy and also for the children’s hospital that bore her name.

“I first met Mrs. Bush in 1994 when I was running for governor, and she campaigned with me. Since that time, I have been fortunate to have had her as a friend as well as a stalwart supporter. Every summer for more than 20 years, I have visited President and Mrs. Bush at their Kennebunkport home. It was always one of the highlights of the year. I shall miss those delightful visits with her,” she said.

Gov. Paul LePage — for whom Mrs. Bush filmed a rare election ad in 2014 — also tweeted his sympathies.

In a joint statement, former U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe and former Gov. John McKernan called Barbara Bush and President George H.W. Bush a “gift and a blessing with their devotion to many causes in Maine.”

“On a personal note, we consider it one of the greatest treasures of our lives to have known Barbara. We are indebted to her and President Bush’s unfailing support for us expressed in countless ways during our time in public service, but above all it is their unwavering warmth and abiding friendship that we will forever cherish,” they wrote.

[Barbara Bush reads to kids at Portland children’s hospital]

The University of New England, home to the George and Barbara Bush Center, hosted a distinguished lecture series in the Bushes’ honor each year, which the couple attended for more than a decade until failing health forced them to miss the event for the first time in 2016.

“Mrs. Bush’s remarkable life will continue to inspire us,” UNE President James D. Herbert said in a statement. “With her commitment to her family, her faith, and the causes she held dear, she exemplified the degree to which each of us is capable of making the world a better place.”

After arriving in Kennebunkport each summer, the Bushes often took their boat up the coast to visit UNE’s Biddeford campus, according to the statement. The Bush Center on the campus houses a collection of photographs and paintings celebrating the Bushes’ love of the Maine coast, as well as a replica of the Oval Office during Bush senior’s presidency and a statue of him.

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