Former President George H.W. Bush Passes Away at 94

HOUSTON/WASHINGTON (Reuters) -
In this 1989 file photo, President George H.W. Bush holds a news conference at the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Marcy Nighswander, File)

Tributes to former President George H.W. Bush, who died at the age of 94, poured in from around the world on Saturday as global leaders honored him for his role in helping to end the Cold War and reduce the threat of nuclear annihilation.

Bush, the 41st U.S. president who served in the office from 1989 to 1993, also routed President Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi army in the 1991 Gulf War but lost his chance for a second term in the White House after breaking a no-new-taxes pledge.

“Many of my memories are linked to him,” said Mikhail Gorbachev, the last leader of the Soviet Union, with whom Bush signed a strategic arms reduction treaty that scaled back the two countries’ nuclear arsenals.

“We happened to work together in years of great changes. It was a dramatic time demanding huge responsibility from everyone,” Russia’s Interfax news agency quoted Gorbachev as saying.

In this Oct. 29, 1991, file photo, President George H.W. Bush gestures during a joint news conference with Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, at the Soviet Embassy in Madrid. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay, File)

Bush, who also served for eight years as vice president during Ronald Reagan’s two-term presidency and earlier as head of the CIA, died on Friday night at his home in Houston. His death was announced by his longtime spokesman Jim McGrath.

Speaking in Buenos Aires, President Donald Trump called Bush “a high-quality man.”

“He was a very fine man. I met him on numerous occasions. He was just a high-quality man who truly loved his family,” Trump told reporters at a G20 summit in Buenos Aires. “He was a terrific guy and he’ll be missed. He led a full life, and a very exemplary life, too.”

The White House said a state funeral is being arranged in Washington. Bush‘s body will arrive at the U.S. Capitol on Monday and will lie in state through Wednesday morning, with a ceremony set for 5 p.m. on Monday.

Trump said he spoke Saturday to former President George W. Bush about his father’s death.

Trump also said the presidential plane will be flown to Houston to bring Bush‘s body to Washington after Trump returns from Argentina.

The president, who plans to attend the funeral, also designated Wednesday as a national day of mourning, and ordered the lowering of the American flag for 30 days.

Trump on Saturday signed an order closing the federal government on Wednesday as a mark of respect for Bush. The New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq will also be closed on Wednesday in his honor.

Then-Vice President George H.W. Bush at the Kosel after his visit to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Yerushalayim, July 27, 1986. (Reuters/Jim Hollander/File Photo)

Former U.S. presidents lauded Bush. “His administration was marked by grace, civility and social conscience,” Jimmy Carter, a Bush predecessor and now the oldest living former president at 94, said in a statement.

Barack Obama described Bush as “a patriot and humble servant” while Bill Clinton, who defeated Bush in the 1992 presidential election, recalled his “great long life of service, love and friendship.”

Bush, a U.S. naval aviator during World War II, was the father of former President George W. Bush, who served two terms in the White House in the 2000s, and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, who unsuccessfully sought the 2016 Republican nomination for president. Like his sons, he was a Republican.

His death came seven months after that of his wife, former first lady Barbara Bush. He was admitted to a Houston hospital with a blood infection a day after her funeral in April.

“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,” George W. Bush said in a statement.

EXTENSIVE POLITICAL RESUME

George Herbert Walker Bush, a Connecticut Yankee who came to Texas to be an oilman, died as the patriarch of a Republican political dynasty. He and George W. Bush were only the second father and son to hold the office of president, after John Adams (1797-1801) and John Quincy Adams (1825-1829).

His second son, Jeb, undertook his own campaign for the presidency in 2015 before dropping out. Bush‘s father, Prescott Bush, was a U.S. senator from Connecticut.

Bush had first sought the presidency in 1980, campaigning on experience gathered as a congressman from Texas, envoy to China, director of the CIA, United Nations ambassador and chairman of the Republican National Committee.

Reagan, former California governor, vanquished Bush in the Republican primaries but chose him as his running mate, hoping Bush‘s reputation as a moderate would balance his own hard, conservative image.

After two terms in the Reagan White House, Bush ran for the presidency again in 1988 and defeated Massachusetts Democrat Michael Dukakis by winning 40 of the 50 states.

The high points of Bush‘s presidency included the end of the Cold War, which brought the dissolution of the Soviet Union and its hold on former Eastern Bloc countries.

Father and son, both former U.S. Presidents, George H.W. Bush (L.) and George W. Bush, shake hands at the dedication for the George W. Bush Presidential Center on the campus of Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, April 25, 2013. (Reuters/Mike Stone/File Photo)

“He was the only one of the world leaders at the time [who] did so much to overcome communism and help Poland,” said Lech Walesa, the former head of Poland’s Solidarity trade union who led protests and strikes that shook communist rule in the 1980s.

“He will remain in hearts and memory forever,” Walesa said on Twitter.

Bush won a decisive victory in ousting Saddam’s Iraqi army from Kuwait, bringing him popularity at home, and made progress on Middle East peace. But Bush‘s foreign affairs victories were overshadowed by a stagnant economy at home. He broke his “read my lips” pledge not to raise taxes and lost his 1992 re-election bid to Clinton, a Democrat.

Bush, who was born on June 12, 1924, in Milton, Massachusetts, grew up wealthy, attending elite schools but putting off college so he could enlist in the Navy at 18. He flew 58 missions off aircraft carriers in World War II and survived being shot down over the Pacific Ocean.

After returning from the war, he married Barbara Pierce, with whom he would have six children. After he graduated from Yale University on an accelerated schedule, the Bushes headed to the oil fields of West Texas.

It was there that Bush became involved in politics, first losing a U.S. Senate race in 1964 before winning election to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1966.

After two terms and another failed Senate bid in 1970, he was appointed by President Richard Nixon as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. In 1974, President Gerald Ford made him an envoy to China and later director of the CIA.

In this Feb. 11, 1991, file photo, President George H.W. Bush talks to reporters in the Rose Garden of the White House after meeting with top military advisers to discuss the Persian Gulf War. From left are: Defense Secretary Dick Cheney, Vice President Dan Quayle, White House Chief of Staff John Sununu, the president, Secretary of State James A. Baker III, and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Colin Powell. (AP Photo/Ron Edmonds, File)

Bush did not endorse fellow Republican Trump, the eventual winner of the 2016 presidential election who attacked both Jeb and George W. Bush during his campaign. He did not publicly say whom he voted for in the election, but a source told CNN he went for Trump’s Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton.

Bush did send Trump a letter in January 2017 saying he would not be able to attend his inauguration because of health concerns, but wishing him the best.