The nation’s 41st president died late Friday (Nov. 30) at the age of 94 after a series of health complications.
George Herbert Walker (H.W.) Bush was elected president in 1988 and served one term. He was vice-president for two terms under his predecessor, President Ronald Reagan. He was also the father of the 43rd president, George W. Bush.
Bush was born in Milton, Mass., on June 12, 1924. After the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, Bush postponed his university studies at Yale and joined the U.S. Navy as an aviator during World War II. His plane was shot down in the Pacific Ocean in 1944 during the war and he earned the highly-respected Distinguished Flying Cross for his bravery.
In 1945, he married Barbara Pierce Bush, who passed away eight months ago after 73 years of marriage. The couple moved to west Texas, where Bush made his fortune in the oil business. That catapulted him into public service as he was elected as a Republican to the U.S. Congress, serving two terms before a failed U.S. Senate bid.
He was appointed by President Richard Nixon as ambassador to the United Nations. President Gerald Ford tapped Bush to be ambassador to China before asking him to lead the Central Intelligence Agency.
A former chairman of the Republican National Committee, Bush ran for President in 1980, but lost to Reagan, who added him as a running mate to the successful ticket. Bush served two terms as vice-president before being elected president in 1988.
He didn’t serve a second term. Bush was defeated by an ambitious Arkansas governor named Bill Clinton, although the two became close friends in their post-presidencies.
Bush’s presidential record is layered with a number of significant international efforts. He successfully guided the U.S.-led coalition forces in the Gulf War after Saddam Hussein’s Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990. He continued good relations with the former Soviet Union as it moved towards democracy.
Former President Bill Clinton and former First Lady Hillary Clinton released a statement on Bush’s passing:
“Hillary and I mourn the passing of President George H.W. Bush, and give thanks for his great long life of service, love, and friendship. I will be forever grateful for the friendship we formed. From the moment I met him as a young governor invited to his home in Kennebunkport, I was struck by the kindness he showed to Chelsea, by his innate and genuine decency, and by his devotion to Barbara, his children, and their growing brood.
“Few Americans have been — or will ever be — able to match President Bush’s record of service to the United States and the joy he took every day from it; from his military service in World War II, to his work in Congress, the United Nations, China, the Central Intelligence Agency, the Vice Presidency and the Presidency, where he worked to move the post Cold War world toward greater unity, peace, and freedom.
“He never stopped serving. I saw it up close, working with him on tsunami relief in Asia and here at home after Hurricane Katrina. His remarkable leadership and great heart were always on full display. I am profoundly grateful for every minute I spent with President Bush and will always hold our friendship as one of my life’s greatest gifts. Our hearts and prayers are with George, Jeb, Neil, Marvin, Doro, their families, and the entire Bush clan.”
Governor Asa Hutchinson said, “Last night, the world witnessed the passing of someone we all considered our friend. It was always the personal touch of George H.W. Bush with so many Americans. I remember the notes he would write after a campaign visit to Arkansas in 1986; the hug he gave to encourage me and others after his defeat for a second term; the patriotic tears he might shed when he learned of the sacrifice and courage of our soldiers; and the love he always had for his family. All Americans can identify with the heart of a man we watched serve our country from WWII to the liberation of Kuwait. Susan and I will be remembering the Bush family as we all reflect on a friend and great American patriot.”
U.S. Rep. French Hill, R-Little Rock, who served in the Bush White House, said, “It’s with heavy hearts that Martha and I mourn the passing of a loyal friend, mentor, and faithful servant, President George H.W. Bush. We lift up the Bush family during this time of grieving and honor the remarkable life and legacy of a strong leader and diplomat, a great father, and an American patriot.
“In our early careers, we treasured working for him on his campaigns and the humbling responsibility of serving on his White House staff. We were grateful for his daily example of goofy humor, courtesy, friendship, and passion for writing handwritten thank-you notes. Truly, President George H.W. Bush and Mrs. Bush were the ideal neighbors, members of the PTA, and the answer to the question on that common form at school or work, ‘in case of emergency, please call…’
“We loved him very much.”
U.S. Senator John Boozman, R-Ark., said, “George H.W. Bush was a devoted husband, father, grandfather and public servant who spent a lifetime answering his nation’s call to service. His love of country and example of faithful civic duty are standards we should all strive to meet. His legacy will continue to inspire future generations to serve the same great cause. My thoughts and prayers are with the Bush family, friends and our country as we remember this great American leader.”
Talk Business & Politics will update this story later today.
Talk Business and Politics is a content partner of KASU. Their show airs on KASU 91.9 FM on Mondays and Fridays during NPR’s Morning Edition at 6:51 am. It also airs during NPR’s All Things Considered on Wednesdays at 5:20 pm. You can follow more of their coverage on their website TalkBusiness.net where you can also catch the latest Northeast Arkansas news.