Former President George Bush, a war hero, father of a president and founder of the modern Texas Republican Party who presided over momentous global changes, died Friday at 94.
“George H. W. Bush was a man of the highest character and the best dad a son or daughter could ask for,” former President George W. Bush said in a written statement. “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 also for the condolences of our friends and fellow citizens.”
The senior Bush’s health already fragile, the heartbreak this spring of losing his first lady and wife of 73 years hit hard. Barbara Bush died on April 17 at age 92. He was hospitalized a day after the funeral with a serious blood infection but recovered.
Bush was elected in 1988 after a bitterly partisan campaign that some said would make it difficult for him to govern. But he quickly forged close working relationships with top congressional Democrats and won strong popular support.
Bush put his emphasis on foreign policy — something that came as no surprise, considering that his long résumé included stints as ambassador to the United Nations, envoy to China and CIA director.
He spent countless hours on the phone, building personal ties with world leaders. He hosted foreign leaders in novel ways, taking Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to a baseball game. Jordan’s King Hussein on a Potomac River yacht cruise. He brought French President Francois Mitterrand and Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, among others, to his home in Kennebunkport.
When he was president, Bush went fishing for bluefish and Striped Bass almost daily from his boats, often joined by friends and family, and he sometimes even the children of reporters covering his summer vacation.