President George H.W. Bush Dead at 94

Playing President George H.W. Bush Dead at 94

President George H.W. Bush died late Friday. He was 94.

His son, George W. Bush, released a statement on behalf of his children, saying they were "saddened to announce that after 94 remarkable years, our dear Dad has died."

"George H.W. Bush was a man of the highest character and the best dad a son or daughter could ask for," he continued. "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."

Bush passed away just eight months after his wife, Barbara Bush, died earlier this year.

In the wake of Barbara's death in April, it looked like Bush might die then as well. He was admitted to the hospital for treatment for a blood infection a day after her funeral, but he pulled through and was eventually released almost two weeks later. 

George Herbert Walker Bush was born to Prescott Bush, a U.S. senator from Connecticut, and Dorothy Walker on June 12, 1924, in Milton, Massachusetts. The family moved to Greenwich, Connecticut, where Bush, known by those close to him as “Poppy,” excelled in school.

Bush enlisted in the U.S. Navy during World War II, following the attacks on Pearl Harbor in 1941. He was commissioned as an ensign in the United States Naval Reserve at Naval Air Station Corpus Christi on June 9, 1943. Just three days shy of his 19th birthday, the 18-year-old Bush became the youngest naval aviator at the time.

Only weeks after returning home from war, Bush married Barbara Pierce in 1945 shortly before he entered Yale University.

The pair had met at a Christmas dance in Connecticut when he was 17 and she was 16.

"I could hardly breathe, I thought he was so beautiful," she would later say on the "Today" show.

While stationed in Japan, Bush wrote to her constantly.

“I love you, precious, with all my heart and to know that you love me means my life," Bush wrote once. "How often have I thought about the immeasurable joy that will be ours someday. How lucky our children will be to have a mother like you. Thank you, Bar."

The couple went on to have six children: George Walker in 1946; Pauline Robinson, known as “Robin,” in 1949; John Ellis, known as “Jeb,” in 1953, Neil Mallon in 1955; Marvin Pierce in 1956; and Dorothy Walker, known as “Doro,” in 1959.

Their daughter Robin was diagnosed with, and lost her battle to, leukemia weeks before her fourth birthday in 1953. Following Robin’s death, the Bush family created the Bright Star Foundation, a charity dedicated to raising awareness and funds for leukemia research.

After graduating from Yale, the Bushes moved to West Texas, where Bush ran an oil business until turning his attention to public service.

Bush got his start in politics when, in 1963, he was elected chairman of the Harris County, Texas Republican Party. He went on to run for, and win, a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives from the 7th District of Texas in 1966. At the time, he was 42 years old.

Bush was appointed ambassador to the U.N. in 1971, and in 1973, became the chairman of the Republican National Committee.

He unofficially acted as ambassador to the People’s Republic of China from 1974 to 1975 and from 1976 to 1977, he served as CIA director.

Bush made his first bid for the presidency in 1980.

He campaigned against Reagan, who would go on to select Bush as his vice president. It was a role Bush would serve out through both terms of Reagan’s presidency.

Bush defeated Michael Dukakis in 1988 to become the 41st president of the United States.

His presidency saw the collapse of the Soviet Union and the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Bush ordered military operations in Panama and oversaw the U.S.-led Gulf War in response to Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait.

During his presidency, Bush also promoted volunteerism through his "Thousand Points of Light" campaign. Bush created the Daily Point of Light Award in 1989 to recognize ordinary people in the U.S. who have taken action in their communities to solve serious social problems.

“Points of Light are the soul of America,” he said years later. “They are ordinary people who reach beyond themselves to touch the lives of those in need, bringing hope and opportunity, care and friendship. By giving so generously of themselves, these remarkable individuals show us not only what is best in our heritage, but what all of us are called to become."

Bush appointed two Justices to the U.S. Supreme Court, first selecting David Souter in 1990 and then Clarence Thomas in 1991.

Bush announced in 1992 he would seek a second term, but lost to Democrat Bill Clinton.

After leaving office, Bush and his wife retired to Texas, often spending summers at the family compound, Walker’s Point, in Kennebunkport, Maine.

He was awarded an honorary knighthood by Queen Elizabeth II in 1993, becoming the third American president to receive the honor after Dwight D. Eisenhower and Ronald Reagan.

Bush’s eldest son, George W. Bush, was inaugurated as the 43rd president of the United States on Jan. 20, 2001, and was re-elected in 2004. His son Jeb unsuccessfully ran for president in 2016 after serving eight years as governor of Florida.  

Despite their political differences, Bush and Clinton became close friends. The pair appeared together in television ads in 2005 to encourage aid for victims of Hurricane Katrina and the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.

He also confirmed he voted for Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee, in the 2016 general election against Donald Trump. Bush went on to send Trump a congratulatory message after his win.

Bush became the longest-living U.S. president when on Nov. 25, 2017, he surpassed lifespan of Gerald Ford, who died in 2006. Bush lived life to the fullest, marking his 80th, 85th and 90th birthdays by skydiving. He had made the memorable trips several times before, and before becoming a nonagenarian, Bush tweeted: "It's a wonderful day in Maine — in fact, nice enough for a parachute jump.

The outpouring of condolences Friday was swift. President Trump and first lady Melania Trump said in a statement they "join with a grieving Nation to mourn the loss of former President George H.W. Bush."

"... President Bush inspired generations of his fellow Americans to public service — to be, in his words, 'a thousand points of light' illuminating the greatness, hope, and opportunity of America to the world," the Trumps said.

President Obama and his wife, Michelle Obama, also released a statement praising Bush for his service.

"George H.W. Bush’s life is a testament to the notion that public service is a noble, joyous calling. And he did tremendous good along the journey," the couple said.

Funeral details have not yet been released. 

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