George Herbert Walker Bush poses with his wife Bar

Obituaries

George H.W. Bush: A look back at the former president's life

One of the most experienced public servants in United States history, Bush was elected 41st president in 1989.

 / Updated 41 PHOTOS
George Herbert Walker Bush is pictured with his si

George Herbert Walker Bush, the 41st president of the United States, was born June 12, 1924, in Milton, Massachusetts. Soon after, the family moved to Greenwich, Connecticut. His father, Prescott Bush, was a railroad and steel executive who went on to become a U.S. senator from Connecticut. The future president is seen here with his sister Mercy in 1929.

The White house / via AFP- Getty Images file
  • Share
Undated and unlocated picture of Senator Prescott

Bush was the second of five children and part of an influential and affluent family. He is seen here, top left, with his father, Prescott, seated center, and other family members. Bush went to the prestigious Phillips Academy boarding school in Andover, Massachusetts, before joining the Navy as an aviator soon after the attack on Pearl Harbor.

AFP- Getty Images file
  • Share
Political Pilot

Joining the Navy just out of high school, Bush became the service's youngest aviator at age 19, seeing considerable action in the Pacific. In 1944, the aircraft he was piloting was hit by flak and he was forced to bail into the ocean, where he waited for four hours in a rubber raft until being rescued. Bush flew 58 missions and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and several other medals. He was honorably discharged at the end of the war, having married Barbara Pierce in January 1945.

Hulton Archive-Getty file
  • Share
Bush

Like his father and several other forebears, Bush attended Yale University. Because of his war service, he was enrolled in an accelerated program that enabled him to graduate in 1948. At Yale he was active in sports, playing first base for the college's baseball team and taking part in the first two College World Series. Like his father and his eldest son, George Walker Bush, he became a member of the secretive Skull and Bones Society. He graduated with a degree in economics.

AP file
  • Share
George Herbert Walker Bush poses with his wife Bar

After Yale, Bush moved to Midland, Texas, where his father had connections in the oil industry. After a couple of years working for someone else, Bush started his own drilling and exploration company, which was soon lucrative and made him a rich man in his own right. After about a decade, though, his ambitions turned to politics, and after an unsuccessful run for the U.S. Senate in 1964, he won a congressional seat in 1966. He is seen with his wife, Barbara, during one of his campaigns during the 1960s.

The White house / via AFP-Getty Images file
  • Share
George Bush With George W. Bush In National Guard Uniform

Bush proudly displays the officer's bar of 2nd Lt. George W. Bush during Lieutenant Bush's swearing-in ceremony for the Air National Guard in 1968.

Getty Images file
  • Share
George Herbert Walker Bush poses with his wife Bar

In 1970, President Richard Nixon persuaded Bush to run for the U.S. Senate, a race he lost. Nixon then appointed him U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, a job he held for two years. Following Nixon's resignation, President Gerald Ford appointed Bush a special envoy to China, where he is seen with his wife, Barbara, in 1974.

The White House / AFP- Getty Images file
  • Share
George Herbert Walker Bush (2nd R) is pictured wit

In January 1976, Ford appointed Bush as director of the Central Intelligence Agency. Both are seen here at the swearing-in ceremony. The job was to last less than a year because Ford was defeated by Jimmy Carter in the November general election and Carter declined to keep him in the position. Bush then returned to private life in Texas.

AFP - Getty Images file
  • Share
In the late '70s, Bush decided that he wanted to be president and began traveling the country in an attempt to drum up support. He entered the Republican primaries in early 1980 and had some early success before being defeated by Ronald Reagan. Here, he peeks around a partition displaying a poster of Reagan during an event in Columbia, S.C. At the convention later that year, Reagan selected Bush to be his running mate, placing him on the winning Republican presidential ticket.

In the late 1970s, Bush decided that he wanted to be president and began traveling the country in an attempt to drum up support. He entered the Republican primaries in early 1980 and had some early success before being defeated by Ronald Reagan. Here, he peeks around a partition displaying a poster of Reagan during an event in Columbia, South Carolina. At the convention later that year, Reagan selected Bush to be his running mate, placing him on the winning Republican presidential ticket.

AP file
  • Share
Reagan and Bush are shown on the podium of Joe Louis Arena in Detroit as the final curtain draws near on the July 1980 Republican National Convention. Nancy Reagan is at left and Barbara Bush is at right.

Reagan and Bush wave from the podium at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit as the final curtain draws near on the July 1980 Republican National Convention. They are joined by Nancy Reagan and Barbara Bush.

AP file
  • Share
Image: Bush Victory Celebration Rally

President-elect George H.W. Bush and his wife, Barbara, wave to the crowd at a victory celebration rally in Houston on Nov. 8, 1988.

J. Scott Applewhite / AP file
  • Share
In 1984, Reagan and Bush were reelected for a second term, beating Walter Mondale and Geraldine Ferraro. Here, Bush greets Ferraro, the first woman vice-presidential candidate, before the beginning of their October 1984 debate. The event was to prove contentious, with Ferraro accusing Bush of having a "patronizing attitude" and fiercely defending her pro-choice view on abortion.

In 1984, Reagan and Bush were re-elected for a second term, beating Walter Mondale and Geraldine Ferraro. Here, Bush greets Ferraro, the first female vice presidential candidate, before the beginning of their October 1984 debate. The event was to prove contentious, with Ferraro accusing Bush of having a "patronizing attitude" and fiercely defending her abortion rights view.

Gene J. Puskar / AP file
  • Share
President and Barbara Bush have a bedroom get-together with grandchildren Pierce, twins Barbara and Jenna (in bed), Marshall, Jeb. Jr. and Sam during an August 1987 vacation at their summer home in Kennebunkport, Maine.

President and Barbara Bush have a bedroom get-together with grandchildren Pierce,  Barbara,  Jenna, Marshall, Jeb. Jr. and Sam during an August 1987 vacation at their summer home in Kennebunkport, Maine.

David Valdez / The White House via Getty Images file
  • Share
Reagan's Advisors

Bush attends a meeting of President Reagan's Council of Economic Advisers. After a somewhat frosty beginning, Bush and Reagan became close and would have lunch together in the Oval Office every Thursday.

Getty Images
  • Share
Bush and his wife, Barbara, left, stand with vice-presidential candidate Dan Quayle and his wife, Marilyn, at the conclusion of the 1988 Republican National Convention in New Orleans. Bush and Quayle won the subsequent election.

Bush and his wife, Barbara, with vice presidential candidate Dan Quayle and his wife, Marilyn, at the end of the 1988 Republican National Convention in New Orleans. Bush and Quayle won the election.

Ron Edmonds / AP
  • Share
President elect George Bush is smashed by a wave 1

President-elect Bush fishing in Florida following his 1988 election victory.

Robert Sullivan / AFP - Getty Images
  • Share
President Ronald Reagan And Vice President George Bush On Reagan's Last Day As Presiden

President Reagan and President-elect Bush leave the White House on Jan. 20, 1989.

The White house / via Getty Images
  • Share
Image: George H.W. Bush

President George H.W. Bush walking into the Grand Canyon on the Kaibab trail on Sept. 18, 1991. Bush walked about a mile to Ooh Ahh point during his half-day visit.

Greg Gibson / AP
  • Share
Thousands of young East Berliners crowd atop the B

One of the major events of Bush's presidency was the fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989. Here, thousands of young East Berliners gather near the Brandenburg Gate after Günter Schabowski, the East Berlin Communist Party boss, declared that East Germans were free to leave the country.

Gerard Malie / AFP - Getty Images
  • Share
Burning Oilfields

In the summer of 1990, Bush had another international crisis on his hands — the Iraqi invasion of neighboring Kuwait. Here, American fighters fly over a Kuwaiti oilfield that had been torched by retreating Iraqi troops during the ensuing Gulf War.

Getty Images
  • Share
US President George Bush (L) and Soviet counterpar

President Bush and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev during a July 1991 news conference in Moscow that concluded a two-day summit on nuclear disarmament. A month later, Gorbachev was under house arrest after a coup. Though he was restored to power, the Soviet Union crumbled and Gorbachev left office in December.

Mike Fisher/ AFP - Getty Images
  • Share
Thomas Bush

Clarence Thomas takes the oath to become a justice of the U.S. Supreme Court during a ceremony at the White House in October 1991. Holding the Bible is Clarence's wife, Virginia. Thomas' confirmation came after contentious Senate hearings that included allegations of sexual harassment.

Marcy Nighswander/AP
  • Share
(FILES)- Picutre taken 16 June 1992 show

Gorbachev's successor in the Kremlin, Boris Yeltsin, throws a horseshoe during a game outside the Oval Office in July 1992. No word on who won.

J. David Ake/AFP - Getty Images
  • Share
US President George Bush caps his pen after signin

Bush signing the North American Free Trade Agreement at the Organization of American States headquarters in Washington in December 1992. Mexican Ambassador Gustavo Petricioli, left, U.S. Trade Representative Carla Hills and Canadian Ambassador Derek Burney applaud.

Robert Giroux/AFP - Getty Images
  • Share
Michigan: U.S. presidential candidates Bill Clinto

Presidential candidates Bill Clinton, Ross Perot and George Bush shake hands with panelists after the conclusion of their final presidential debate in October 1992. Perot's strong showing in the election, as well as fallout from Bush's broken "Read my lips — no new taxes" pledge, were keys to Clinton's win. 

J. David Ake / AFP - Getty Images
  • Share
U.S. President George Bush (R) shakes hands with P

Bush shakes hands with President-elect Bill Clinton in November 1992 as Clinton leaves the White House after a meeting about the transition between administrations.

Luke Frazza/AFP - Getty Images
  • Share
US President George W. Bush (L) is hugged by his f

President George W. Bush is hugged by his father after the younger Bush was sworn into office Jan. 20, 2001, on the South Front of the U.S. Capitol.

Luke Frazza/AFP - Getty Images
  • Share
Russian President Vladimir Putin (C) is welcomed b

Russian President Vladimir Putin is welcomed by Bush and former U.S. Secretary of State James A. Baker III on his arrival in Houston in November 2001. Putin delivered a speech at the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy at Rice University.

AFP - Getty Images
  • Share
Florida Governor Jeb Bush (R) consults early vote

Florida Gov. Jeb Bush looks at early election results with his father and mother in a Miami hotel in November 2002. Bush, 49, became the first Republican Florida governor to win re-election.

Carl Juste/ AFP - Getty Images
  • Share
Former US Presidents George H. Bush (3R)

Former Presidents Bush and Clinton are briefed by officials at a water purifying project in Sri Lanka in February 2005. Clinton and Bush were on a four-nation tour of tsunami-hit countries, one of several aid projects the two did together.

Findlay Kember/AFP - Getty Images
  • Share
Image: George H.W. Bush, Barbara Bush

Bush, embraces former first lady Barbara Bush after she introduced the former president at the Genesis Women's Shelter Mother's Day Luncheon in Dallas on May 3, 2006.

Tony Gutierrez / AP file
  • Share
George H. W. Bush, Mike Elliott

Bush rides tandem with a member of the Army's Golden Knights parachute team as he celebrates his 85th birthday with a jump over Kennebunkport, Maine, on June 12, 2009.

SSG Joe Abeln/Army Golden Knights via AP
  • Share
Image: President Barack Obama, George H.W. Bush

From left, President Barack Obama speaks with former President George H.W. Bush after awarding him the 2010 Medal of Freedom during a ceremony at the White House on February 15, 2011.

Jim Watson / AFP/Getty Images file
  • Share
Image: Houston Texans Cheeleaders

Bush wears American flag socks on April 17, 2013, as he presents roses to the new Houston Texans cheerleaders at the team's training facility in Houston. 

Smiley N./Houston Chronicle via AP
  • Share
Image:

From left, President Barack Obama and former Presidents George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush and Jimmy Carter arrive for the dedication of the George W. Bush Presidential Center in Dallas on April 25, 2013.

David J. Phillip/AP
  • Share
Image: Former President George H. W. Bush applauds during an event to honor the winner of the 5,000th Daily Point of Light Award at the White House in Washington in this file photo

Bush applauds during an event to honor the winner of the 5,000th Daily Point of Light Award at the White House in Washington on July 15, 2013.

Kevin Lamarque / Reuters file
  • Share
Image: Former President George H.W. Bush is pictured after joining members of his Secret Service detail in shaving his head to show his support for Patrick, , the two year-old son of a detail member who is being treated for leukemia.

Bush shaved his head to show support for the 2-year-old son of a colleague who was being treated for leukemia in July 2013.

Office of George Bush via Reuters
  • Share
Image: Georg H.W. Bush

Bush waves while being introduced at an NCAA  basketball game between Duke and North Carolina State in Durham, North Carolina, on Jan. 18, 2014.

Gerry Broome/AP
  • Share
Image: Super Bowl LI - New England Patriots v Atlanta Falcons

Bush flips the coin with Barbara during Super Bowl LI between the Atlanta Falcons and the New England Patriots in Houston on Feb. 5, 2017.

Al Bello / Getty Images
  • Share
Image: Barack Obama, George Bush, George W. Bush, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton

All five living former presidents gather on stage at the opening of a hurricane relief concert in College Station, Texas, on Oct. 21, 2017.

From left are Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. They joined to support a fund-raising effort for victims of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria.

LM Otero / AP
  • Share
Image:

The famously gregarious and polite former president personally shook the hands of hundreds of mourners who attended the funeral service for his wife, Barbara, at St. Martin's Episcopal Church in Houston on April 21, 2018.

Brett Coomer / Pool via Getty Images
  • Share
1/41