Updated February 16, 10:33 AM CT
November 30, 2018
George H.W. Bush (94)
(1924 – 2018), 41st president of the United States
Former President George Herbert Walker Bush died Friday, November 30, 2018.
Born June 12, 1924, he was the oldest living ex-president at 94, and he was the first president in almost 200 years whose son became president, too.
His passing comes just seven months after that of his wife, former First Lady Barbara Bush.
Bush's son, former President George W. Bush, announced the death in a statement Friday, saying: "George H.W. Bush was a man of the highest character and the best dad a son or daughter could ask for. The entire Bush family is 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."
As the 41st president of the United States from 1989 to 1993, following an eight-year tenure as Ronald Reagan’s vice president, Bush cut a pragmatic figure rather than a romantic one, even as he helmed a number of high-stakes international situations.
He worked with both the last Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, and the first Russian president, Boris Yeltsin, to declare an official, peaceful end to the Cold War between the U.S. and Soviet power blocs, whose long struggle for dominance amid mutual nuclear threat had shaped global politics through the second half of the 20th century.
Bush also assembled the U.S.-led military coalition of nations in 1991 that forced Saddam Hussein's Iraq to quit its armed annexation of its oil-rich Persian Gulf neighbor state, Kuwait.
On the domestic front, President Bush signed several major initiatives into law, including the Americans with Disabilities Act, which protected the civil rights of citizens living with numerous physical and mental health conditions, and the Immigration Act of 1990, which expanded total immigration numbers by 40 percent. He also appointed Justices David Souter and Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court.
Though he was popular with the American public following what was generally seen as a successful conclusion to the Gulf War, Bush's esteem soon declined amid an ongoing economic recession. His famous campaign pledge, "Read my lips: no new taxes," proved impossible to hold to in the face of a contrary Congress, and discontent voters in 1992 elected Bill Clinton, choosing to make Bush a one-term president.
Bush followed the tradition of penning a letter to his successor when he departed the White House, and his hand-written note reflected honestly on his own character as leader even as it offered encouragement to the man who defeated him: "I wish you great happiness here. I never felt the loneliness some Presidents have described. There will be very rough times, made ever more difficult by criticism you may not think is fair. I'm not a very good one to give advice; but just don't let the critics discourage you or push you off course. You will be our President when you read this note. I wish you well."
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