George H. W. Bush, the 41st president of the United States and patriarch of a political dynasty, died Friday night in his Houston home. He was 94.
Bush served as president from 1989 to 1993, capping off a career in politics and public service that spanned more than 40 years. His legacy was carried on by his children: his oldest son, George W. Bush, was the 43rd president of the United States, and his son Jeb served as the governor of Florida. Bush’s grandson, George P. Bush, is currently the commissioner of the Texas General Land Office.
Bush was a decorated war veteran who served as a Navy pilot in World War II. He went on to become a two-term congressman from Texas, chaired the Republican National Committee, and was the director of the Central Intelligence Agency. Through most of the 1980s, before running for president himself, Bush served two terms as vice president under Ronald Reagan.
Bush was in office during the collapse of the Soviet Union and oversaw the end of the Cold War. During his one term as president, he also established a strong American presence in the Middle East during the Gulf War. When Iraqi troops invaded Kuwait in 1990, Bush assembled an international coalition to push them back. According to NPR, Bush launched a five-week bombing campaign to stifle Iraqi forces, followed by an extensive ground assault. While Bush ultimately decided against invading Baghdad and toppling Saddam Hussein, the issue was revisited by his son’s administration about a dozen years later, who ultimately made the call to invade Iraq in 2003.
While the Gulf War and foreign affairs were considered a success back home for the elder Bush, the costs of conflict caught up to him in the polls. In 1992, Bush lost his second bid for the White House to Democratic newcomer Bill Clinton, who promised economic reform amid a national recession.
On Friday night, George W. Bush issued a statement on behalf of the Bush family. “George H. W. Bush was a man of the highest character and the best dad a son or daughter could ask for,” he 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.”