Hundreds gather to listen to Laura Bush in Roanoke - WNCT

Hundreds gather to listen to Laura Bush in Roanoke

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ROANOKE -

This is a big day for the Taubman Museum of Art and the community as hundreds of people packed into the Hotel Roanoke to hear Former First Lady Laura Bush speak.

"I'm so happy to be here in the beautiful Blue Ridge of Virginia and saw the leaves that looked so lovely, we flew in and then drove in through town," said Mrs. Bush who also talked about her family, including her mother-in-law Barbara and President George H. W. Bush. 

"I believe that they are teaching us the way to age with grace. In May my mother-in-law Barbara Bush walked her dogs on the beach every day twice a day. From both of them, George and I have learned 'all we know we have is now'.  So take advantage of life as it is and walk on the beach every chance you get," said Mrs. Bush. 

During her speech, she talked about what life was like in the White House, 9/11, and finding her identity as a first lady. Laura Bush championed causes like literacy and women's rights here at home and in middle eastern countries like Afghanistan. That hit home for the hundreds in attendance, mostly women.

Gail Duffy, who attended the event, said "[I] Just thought it was wonderful how everyone came together and how they talked about how strong women are not only in our community but also in our nation."

Bringing in a high-profile speaker also helped the Taubman bring in about $225,000 this year. Last year's event raised $40,000. The Taubman's annual budget is about $2.8 million.

"It's really pretty special. She [Mrs. Bush] has always heard about our museum because I've been telling her about it since we did the capital campaign for the museum. So she's very familiar with all our ecstasy and agony in establishing it," said Board of Trustees member Jenny Taubman. 

"All in all it's just a good way to show that the Taubman is sort of back in the community and very positive and things are going great," said Taubman Museum of Art Executive Director Della Watkins. 

Two local women were honored for their community contributions: 

Nancy Agee, President and CEO of Carilion Clinic, received the Ann Fralin Award.

Roanoke County Superintendent, Dr. Lorraine Lange, was honored with the Art Venture award.  

"Many school systems are cutting and we just feel like the Taubman is another classroom for us so we're really very fortunate to have this and I'm very humbled by the award," said Dr. Lange. 

WSLS 10 was a proud sponsor of the event. Our own Karen McNew emceed the luncheon. 

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