George HW Bush, 41st president of United States, dies at age 94

George HW Bush served as US president from 1989 to 1993, and eight years later watched his son George W became the 43rd president.
In this May 11, 2008 file photo, former President George H.W. Bush arrives on the South Lawn of White House in Washington.(AP File Photo)
In this May 11, 2008 file photo, former President George H.W. Bush arrives on the South Lawn of White House in Washington.(AP File Photo)
Updated on Dec 01, 2018 03:19 PM IST
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Washington | ByAgencies

Former US president George HW Bush, who helped steer America through the end of the Cold War, has died at age 94, his family announced late Friday.

Family spokesman Jim McGrath says Bush died shortly after 10 pm Friday, about eight months after the death of his wife, Barbara Bush.

“Jeb, Neil, Marvin, Doro and I are saddened to announce that after 94 remarkable years, our dear Dad has died,” his son, former president George W. Bush, said in a statement released on Twitter by a family spokesman.

“George H.W. Bush was a man of the highest character and the best dad a son or daughter could ask for.”

 

Read: George HW Bush, the US president who saw America through Cold War

The nation’s 41st president served from 1989 to 1993, and eight years later watched his son George W became the 43rd president.

The elder Bush saw his popularity swell with the United States’ success in the Gulf War in 1991, only to watch it evaporate in a brief but deep recession. The Republican was defeated in his bid for a second term by Democrat Bill Clinton.

Bush had also been a World War II hero, Texas congressman, CIA director and Ronald Reagan’s vice president.

Only one other US president, John Adams, had a son who also became president.

 

Early life

George H W Bush was born on June 12, 1924 in Milton, Massachusetts into a wealthy New England political dynasty -- the son of Prescott Bush, a successful banker and US senator for Connecticut.

Bush had a pampered upbringing and attended the prestigious Phillips Academy in Andover, but delayed his acceptance to Yale in order to enlist in the US Navy on his 18th birthday and head off to war.

He flew 58 combat missions during World War II. Shot down over the Pacific by Japanese anti-aircraft fire, he parachuted out and was rescued by a submarine after huddling in a life raft for four hours while enemy forces circled.

Bush married Barbara Pierce in January 1945, shortly before the war ended, and the couple went on to have six children, including one, Robin, who died as a child.

Instead of joining his father in banking upon graduation from Yale University, Bush headed to bleak west Texas to break into the rough-and-tumble oil business.

He surprised many with his success, and by 1958 had settled in Houston as president of an offshore drilling company.

Political career

In the 1960s, Bush, now independently wealthy, turned to politics.

He was a local Republican Party chairman, and in 1966 won a seat in the US House of Representatives. He served there until 1970, when he lost a bid for the Senate.

Over the next decade, he held several high-level posts that took him and Barbara around the world: head of the Republican National Committee, US ambassador to the United Nations, envoy to China and director of the Central Intelligence Agency, where he was praised for restoring morale after revelations of widespread illegal activity.

In this file photo taken on August 05, 1992 US President George Bush shakes hands with supporters upon his arrial in Reno. (AFP)
In this file photo taken on August 05, 1992 US President George Bush shakes hands with supporters upon his arrial in Reno. (AFP)

He served as vice president to Ronald Reagan after losing to him in the 1980 Republican primary, an eight-year period of hands-on training for the top post he would go on to win by a solid margin in 1988, as the Cold War was coming to an end.

In a major test of the post-Cold War order, Saddam’s million-man army invaded Kuwait in 1990 and looked set to roll into Saudi Arabia, which would have given the Iraqi strongman more than 40 percent of the world’s oil reserves.

Bush famously vowed: “This will not stand, this aggression against Kuwait.” He assembled a coalition of 32 nations to drive Iraqi forces out in a matter of weeks with a lightning air and ground assault.

Some 425,000 US troops backed by 118,000 allied soldiers took part in Operation Desert Storm, decimating Saddam’s military machine without ousting him from power -- a task that would be accomplished 12 years later by Bush’s son.

Buoyed by his victory in the Gulf, Bush and his hard-nosed and widely respected secretary of state James Baker cobbled together the 1991 Madrid Conference to launch the Arab-Israeli peace process.

The conference was mainly symbolic, but it set the stage for the Oslo Accords two years later.

In late 1989, Bush sent US troops to Panama to oust strongman Manuel Noriega. He also set the groundwork for the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Domestically, however, the economy stalled and Bush broke his pledge not to raise taxes in order to reach a budget deal with Democrats -- a cardinal sin in the eyes of Republicans.

In 1992, Bush lost his re-election bid to Clinton -- whose aide coined the now famous slogan “It’s the economy, stupid” -- as eccentric third-party candidate Ross Perot syphoned off conservative votes.

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