George Herbert Walker Bush, the 41st president of the United States died Friday night at the age of 94 at his Houston home. Bush was the son of a U.S. Senator and served his country first as a World War II fighter pilot and later as a congressman, an ambassador to the United Nations and envoy to China, chairman of the Republican National Committee, director of the CIA, two-term vice president and, for four years, as president.
His son, former President George W. Bush, issued a statement saying the Bush family described their patriarch “as a man of the highest character and the best dad a son or daughter could ask for.”
The statement did not mention a cause of death, instead simply saying that “the entire Bush family is deeply grateful for 41’s life and love, for the compassion of those who have cared and prayed for Dad, and for the condolences of our friends and fellow citizens.”
The Bush was married to Barbara for 73 years at the time of her death in April. Her husband released a statement at the time calling her “the most beloved woman in the world.”
Bush served as vice president to Ronald Reagan from 1981 to 1989 before winning the White House himself. He beat Democratic opponent Michael Dukakis by a substantial margin in 1988 and served as president from 1989 to 1993.
By winning the presidency he became the first incumbent vice president since Martin Van Buren in 1836 to become president.
Bush was an expert in foreign affairs, and led an international alliance to victory in the first Gulf War after Iraq invaded Kuwait in August of 1990.
He was given credit for being a steady hand to help ensure world order after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
But he lost his reelection bid in 1992 to Bill Clinton who was helped by third party candidate Ross Perot.
Bush was born in Massachusetts in 1924. His father, Prescott Bush, was a successful businessman and banker who represented Connecticut in the U.S. Senate.
Shortly after the United States joined the Second World War, George H.W. Bush enlisted in the Navy. He became its youngest pilot.
His war record was stellar, and he was shot down over the Pacific in 1944. Two of his comrades were killed in the crash but he was picked up by an American submarine and, once he recovered from his injuries, returned to combat duty.
In 1945, he married the Barbara Pierce, and the couple stayed together for the rest of her life.
GeBush earned a degree from Yale University and, declined to join his father’s banking business. Instead, he set off on his own to find success in the Texas oilfields.
He became chairman of the Houston Republican Party in in 1962 and won election to the House in 1966 and served two terms.
After that he was appointed as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations by former President Nixon, then later became chairman of the Republican National Committee in 1973 and 1974, during the Watergate scandal.
He became director of the CIA during President Gerald Ford’s administration.
Bush ran for president in 1980, but lost to Reagan who he called “as far to the right as you can get.” Later he called Reagan’s enthusiasm for supply-side, trickle-down economic theories “voodoo economics.”
After Reagan won he asked Bush to join him as his vice presidential running mate. As vice president Bush was known for being very loyal and never making waves, and never publicly expressing differences of opinion with the president.
His presidency was known for its successes in foreign affairs but at home the U.S. was suffering from a recession which led to his loss after four years.
In his inaugural address Bush set forth his vision, even though he once said he didn’t believe in “that vision thing.”
“Some see leadership as high drama, and the sound of trumpets calling, and sometimes it is that. But I see history as a book with many pages, and each day we fill a page with acts of hopefulness and meaning. The new breeze blows, a page turns, the story unfolds.”
I am a lifelong Democrat with a passion for social justice and progressive issues. I have degrees in writing, economics and law from the University of Iowa.