George H.W. Bush, the 41st president of the United States of America, passed away Friday night (Nov 30) at his home in Houston, Texas. He was 94.
His son George H.W. Bush, also a former president, confirmed his father’s death in a statement released on behalf of the family.
“Jeb, Neil, Marvin, Doro and I are saddened to announce that after 94 remarkable years, our dear Dad has died,” read the statement.
“George HW Bush was a man of the highest character and the best dad a son or daughter could ask for,” it said
“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,” wrote the 43rd U.S. president.
Statement by the 43rd President of the United States, George W. Bush, on the passing of his father this evening at the age 94. pic.twitter.com/oTiDq1cE7h
— Jim McGrath (@jgm41) December 1, 2018
A statement from the deceased president’s office said that the world war two naval aviator and Texas oil pioneer is survived by his five children and their spouses, seventeen grandchildren, eight great-grandchildren, and two siblings.
“He was preceded in death by his wife of 73 years, Barbara; his second child Pauline Robinson ‘Robin’ Bush; and his brothers Prescott and William or ‘Bucky’ Bush. Funeral arrangements will be announced as soon as is practical,” the statement said.
“Melania and I join with a grieving nation to mourn the loss of former President George H.W. Bush,” President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump said in a joint statement.
“Through his essential authenticity, disarming wit, and unwavering commitment to faith, family and his country, 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 statement said.
“Along with his full life of service to country, we will remember President Bush for his devotion to family – especially the love of his life, Barbara. His example lives on, and will continue to stir future Americans to pursue a greater cause. Our hearts ache with his loss, and we, with the American people, send our prayers to the entire Bush family, as we honor the life and legacy of 41.”
Statement from President Donald J. Trump and First Lady Melania Trump on the Passing of Former President George H.W. Bush pic.twitter.com/qxPsp4Ggs7
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 1, 2018
Former president Barack Obama and his wife Michelle Obama said in a statement that the country had lost a “patriot and humble servant in George Herbert Walker Bush.”
“While our hearts are heavy today, they are also filled with gratitude. Not merely for the years he spent as our 41st president, but for the more than 70 years he spent in devoted service to the country he loved – from a decorated naval aviator who nearly gave his life in world war two, to commander-in-chief of our armed forces, with plenty of posts along the way,” they wrote.
Often referred to as Bush 41 – to distinguish him from his son George W. Bush, or Bush 43 if you like – George Herbert Walker Bush was the son of banker-turned-politician Prescott Bush and Dorothy Walker Bush.
His service to his country started as early as his 18th birthday when he joined the U.S. Navy to become the youngest naval aviator at the time, his decision influenced by the Pearl Harbor attack on Dec 7, 1942.
After graduating from Yale University in 1948, Bush relocated with his family to Texas where he found success in the oil business, becoming a millionaire at a relatively young age of forty.
Bush’s journey to the White House was a long and eventful one.
His love affair with politics actually started with a defeat when he contested his first election for the U.S. Senate in 1964, losing a second time in 1970.
However, between the two losses, he did get elected to the House of Representatives from Texas’s 7th district in 1966, and again in 1968.
Bush was appointed Ambassador to the United Nations in 1971 by the then U.S. president, Richard Nixon, going on to become the Chairman of the Republican National Committee in 1973.
Under President Gerald Ford the following year, Bush became Chief of the Liaison Office in China, followed by his assignment to the position of Director of Central Intelligence.
His first attempt at becoming the country’s first man in 1980 ended in defeat at the hands of Ronald Reagan in the Republican primary itself.
However, Reagan chose him as his running mate and Bush had to play second fiddle as his Vice President after he was elected president.
After serving as the second-in-command for eight long years, Bush ran for the top job in 1988 again, defeating Democrat Michael Dukakis and creating a record of sorts in the process, in that it was after a gap of 152 years that a sitting vice president was elected president.
Bush failed to get re-elected for a second term, losing to Democrat Bill Clinton in the 1992 presidential race.
His loss was seen as the fallout of a weak recovery from an economic downturn and continuing budget deficits, among other reasons.
In his post-White House life, Bush became a highly-respected and admired political elder, his magnanimous disposition evident in the fact that he became close to Bill Clinton – the man he lost his presidency to – working with him on several humanitarian endeavors.
A hand-written message dated Jan 20, 1992, which has gone viral following his death, speaks volumes about the 41st president’s magnanimity and graciousness.
Here’s what he wrote to the incoming president, Bill Clinton.
“When I walked into this office just now I felt the same sense of wonder and respect that I felt four years ago. I know you will feel that, too.
“I wish you great happiness here. I never felt the loneliness some presidents have described.
“There will be very tough times, made even more difficult by criticism you may not think is fair. I’m not a very good one to give advice; but just don’t let the critics discourage you or push you off course.
“You will be our President when you read this note. I wish you well. I wish your family well.
“Your success is now our country’s success. I am rooting hard for you.”
George H.W. Bush’s letter to Bill Clinton, Inaugural Day 1993: pic.twitter.com/DDoObe0Anv
— Michael Beschloss (@BeschlossDC) September 3, 2017
Rest in Peace, President George Herbert Walker Bush.