Former United States President George H.W. Bush died late on Friday, November 30, 2018 at his home in Houston, Texas. Passing at the age of 94, Bush was the longest-lived president in America’s history.
Bush served as the 41st President of the United States, was the Vice President under Ronald Reagan, and father to George W. Bush, the 43rd President.
As the son of Senator Prescott Bush, he grew up in a wealthy, politically active family. Born June 12, 1924, in Milton, Massachusetts, he went to Phillips Academy, an elite boarding school in Andover, MA.
Bush started dating his future wife Barbara Pierce in 1941 after they were introduced at a dance, while both were still teenagers. The pair were married in January 1945.
He enlisted in the U.S. Navy on his 18th birthday, becoming the youngest pilot in the Navy during WWII. Bush was a combat pilot during the war with a total of 58 combat missions and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his service.
After the war he went to Yale University, graduating in 1948 with a degree in economics, then moved to Midland, Texas and was successful in the oil and petroleum industry. He became chairman of the Harris County Republican Party in 1963 and was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1966, serving two terms. He was later appointed to positions of U.S. ambassador to the United Nations in 1971, head of the Republican National Committee during Watergate, U.S. envoy to China, and director of the CIA in 1976.
He made a bid for the presidency in 1980, but was defeated during the primary race. Frontrunner Ronald Reagan won the election, choosing Bush as the Vice President; a post he served for two terms from 1980 to 1988.
It was in 1988 that Bush was elected president, becoming the first sitting vice president to be elected president since 1837. During the Republican National Convention that year he famously promised, “Read my lips: no new taxes.”
Bush deftly handled foreign affairs during a difficult time in our history. He responded to the dissolve of the Soviet Union and oversaw the military as they removed Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega. Bush created a national coalition and lead a military strike in response to Iraqi President Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait. The way he responded to the invasion is largely considered his greatest success as president. Though he was globally successful, the way he handled economic issues domestically is considered the reason that he was not reelected in 1992.
During his son George W. Bush’s presidential campaign in 2000, Bush Sr. appeared regularly to show support. In 2005, he joined with former President Bill Clinton to help people in the Gulf Coast region that were impacted by Hurricane Katrina. The Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund raised over $100 million in donations during the first few months.
In 2011 he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama. A year later he was diagnosed with lower body parkinsonism, which confined him to a wheelchair. Despite the physical difficulties he faced, Bush continued making public appearances, including when he and Barbara attended Super Bowl LI in Houston, cheered on by the crowed. Bush even performed the coin toss to start the game that ended the 2017 season.
Bush began dealing with more health issues after Barbara died in April 2018. According to family representatives, he did not want to go to the hospital on Friday, choosing instead to say goodbye to family.