41st President of the United States and father of the 43rd George Herbert Walker Bush died at his Houston home on Friday night aged 94, the Bush family announced.
“Jeb, Neil, Marvin, Doro and I are 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,” George W. Bush’s statement reads. “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.”
Born into privilege in 1924, Bush would become a decorated World War II fighter pilot, Yale graduate and prosperous oilman before entering politics in 1963, when he was elected chairman of the Harris County, Texas Republican Party. From there he won a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, was appointed Ambassador to the United Nations by President Richard Nixon and chaired the Republican National Committee during the Watergate scandal. He would later serve as an unofficial ambassador to China and director of the CIA before first running for president in 1980, when he was defeated in the primary race by Ronald Reagan, who would later select Bush as his vice president. Bush served as VP for both of President Reagan’s terms before defeating Democrat Michael Dukakis in the 1988 presidential election at the age of 64.
Bush served as president from 1989-1993, entering office during a period of global upheaval. His presidency saw the Exxon Valdez oil spill, the Tiananmen Square massacre, the fall of the Berlin wall, the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the negotiation of NAFTA and the onset of the Gulf War. Some of his most prominent legislative accomplishments included the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, the Civil Rights Act of 1991 (though he vetoed the Civil Rights Act of 1990), the Clean Air Act and the Immigration Act of 1990. His rhetorical calling card as president was the concept of a “thousand points of light,” meant to symbolize the power of individual citizens to better their communities through volunteer service. He was named Time’s Man of the Year in 1990 and received an honorary knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II in 1993.
Bolstered by high approval ratings but dogged by an economic recession when running for reelection in 1992, Bush was defeated soundly by Democratic challenger Bill Clinton, with whom he would go on to become close friends. Upon leaving office, he and his wife, First Lady Barbara Bush, would retire to Houston, Texas. For the remainder of his life, Bush would keep a distance from the political fray, looking on while one son, George W. Bush, won two terms as president, and another, Jeb Bush, was elected governor of Florida twice before attempting his own run at the presidency. In an interview with his biographer, Bush once said of his presidency, “I am lost between the glory of Reagan—monuments everywhere, trumpets, the great hero—and the trials and tribulations of my sons.”
In his later years, Bush was confined to a wheelchair or scooter, suffering from a form of Parkinson’s disease that limited his mobility. His wife Barbara died on on April 17—one day after her funeral, Bush was hospitalized with an infection that had spread to his blood. He had also dealt with thyroid and respiratory problems as his overall condition declined, leading to numerous health scares through which he persevered.
President Obama praised Bush as “a patriot and humble servant” in a tribute to his departed predecessor shared via Twitter on Friday night.
President Trump, in typically Trumpian fashion, shared both a formal prepared statement and an off-the-cuff tweet on the subject, lauding Bush’s “long, successful and beautiful life” (?) in the latter.
President Bill Clinton, the U.S. Navy and French head of state Emmanuel Macron, among others, offered their condolences, as well.
And former President Jimmy Carter offered he and his wife’s condolences in the following statement (per the AP):
Rosalynn and I are deeply saddened by the death of former President George H.W. Bush. His administration was marked by grace, civility, and social conscience. Through his Points of Light initiative and other projects, he espoused a uniquely American volunteer spirit, fostering bipartisan support for citizen service and inspiring millions to embrace community volunteerism as a cherished responsibility.
We again extend our heartfelt condolences to the Bush family.
Bush will be honored with a funeral at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. in the coming days. Trump, who will be in attendance, will designate this upcoming Wednesday, Dec. 5, a national day of mourning.