George Herbert Walker Bush, the World War II veteran who was elected the 41st President of the United States and fathered the nation’s 43rd, died late Friday at the age of 94, his family announced in a statement.
The Republican spent decades serving in government before ascending to the nation’s highest office, having served as United Nations ambassador, CIA chief and vice president under Ronald Reagan, a towering political figure still venerated by the GOP.
Bush advocated a “kinder, gentler” form of conservatism, pursued policies that helped topple the Soviet empire and initiated military campaigns that ousted one foreign dictator while crippling another. He lived longer than any other U.S. president, and presided over the demise of the Cold War, punctuated by the fall of the Berlin Wall.
President Donald Trump, who rose to power by railing against the Republican establishment embodied by the Bush family, hailed the 41st president as a man of “sound judgement,common sense and unflappable leadership,” a statement from the White House read.
Bush “guided our nation, and the world, to a peaceful and victorious conclusion of the Cold War. As president, he set the stage for the decades of prosperity that have followed,” Trump said.
The former president also was lauded by the 44th U.S. president, Barack Obama, who in a statement called Bush “a patriot and humble servant…While our hearts are heavy today, they are also filled with gratitude.” Bush’s life was “a testament to the notion that public service is a noble, joyous calling,” the statement read.
Wife Barbara died April 17 at age 92. Their 73-year marriage was longer than that of any presidential couple in U.S. history. Their children included former President George W. Bush and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.
“George H.W. Bush lived a life that was purposeful, and extraordinarily rewarding — for our nation, and for our world,” said Tricia Nixon Cox and Julie Nixon Eisenhower, the daughters of former president Richard Nixon, in a statement.
“While people everywhere salute and thank George H.W. Bush today, we take special solace in knowing the President and Mrs. Bush are together again,” the Nixon siblings added.
Bush’s cause of death was not immediately announced. However, at various times during the last several yeas, the former president fell ill and was hospitalized. A day after Mrs. Bush‘s funeral on April 21, the senior Bush was admitted to Houston Methodist Hospital for a blood infection.
He had been taken there in April 2017 and in January 2017 for treatment related to pneumonia, family spokesman Jim McGrath said. During the January hospitalization, Barbara Bush was also treated there after experiencing fatigue and coughing. Their hospitalization came days after they had celebrated their 72nd wedding anniversary on Jan. 6, 2017.
The couple lived in Houston. During Hurricane Harvey, which devastated the city in August 2017, Bush and his wife were in their second home in Kennebunkport, Maine. He praised the efforts of first responders and used Twitter to encourage people to donate to One America Appeal, a private relief fund coordinated by the five former U.S. presidents.
The son of a U.S. senator, the elder Bush had big shoes to fill when he succeeded Ronald Reagan, a larger-than-life figure who was once his rival. He was denied a 2nd term by Arkansas Democrat Bill Clinton, only to forge an unlikely relationship with the same man who ended his political career.
Capping a long political career, Bush was elected to the White House in 1988 on a ticket with Sen. Dan Quayle, defeating Democrat Michael Dukakis and running mate Sen. Lloyd Bentsen in a landslide.
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