Image: Former President George H.W. Bush

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The life and times of George H.W. Bush

Leader of an American political dynasty, George Bush’s influence was felt beyond his terms as president and vice president. Take a look back at his life and career.

 / Updated 38 PHOTOS
George Herbert Walker Bush is pictured with his si

Early days

George Herbert Walker Bush, the 41st president of the United States, was born June 12, 1924, in Milton, Mass. Soon after, the family moved to Greenwich, Conn. 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.

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Undated and unlocated picture of Senator Prescott

Substantial family

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

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Political Pilot

Young gun

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.

Mpi / Hulton Archive
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A Yale man

Like his father and several other forbears, Bush attended Yale University in New Haven, Conn. 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 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.

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George Herbert Walker Bush poses with his wife Bar

Oilman turns to politics

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.

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George Bush With George W. Bush In National Guard Uniform

Pilots together

Bush proudly displays the officer's bar of 2nd Lt. George W. Bush during the ceremony in which the younger Bush was sworn into the Air National Guard in 1968.

Getty Images / Hulton Archive
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George Herbert Walker Bush poses with his wife Bar

China hand

In 1970, President 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 Ford appointed Bush as a special envoy to China, where he is seen with wife Barbara in 1974.

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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. But 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 / AFP
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George Bush peeks around a partition which has a poster of Ronald Reagan,  one of his opponents for the Republican party presidential nomination, before he speaks at Columbia, S.C., March 4, 1980.  Bush, in South Carolina, was waiting to be introduced at the Richland Country GOP convention.  Woman at left is unidentified. (AP Photo)

Push for president

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.

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Republican presidential candidate Ronald Reagan and his running mate George Bush are shown on the podium of Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, July 17, 1980 as the final curtain draws near on the 1980 Republican National Convention. Nancy Reagan stands left, Barbara Bush, right. (AP Photo)

Ticket on parade

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.

Anonymous / AP
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Vice-President George H. Bush, left, greets Democratic vice-presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro before the beginning of their debate, Thursday, Oct. 11, 1984 in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

Second race

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.

Gene J. Puskar / AP
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Snuggle time

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.

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Reagan's Advisors

Inner circle

Bush, at right, attends a meeting of President Reagan's council of economic advisers. After a somewhat frosty beginning, Bush and Reagan became close and would lunch together in the Oval Office every Thursday.

Mpi / Hulton Archive
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Ticket and wives

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.

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

Riding a wave

President-elect Bush is hit by a wave while fishing in Florida following his 1988 election victory.

Robert Sullivan / AFP
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President Ronald Reagan And Vice President George Bush On Reagan's Last Day As Presiden

Goodbye and hello

Reagan and Bush leave the White House on January 20, 1989, Reagan's last day as president and Bush's first day in the Oval Office. Bush had beaten Democratic candidate Michael Dukakis the previous November.

The White House / Getty Images North America
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Thousands of young East Berliners crowd atop the B

The wall falls

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 Guenter Schabowski, the East Berlin Communist party boss, declared that East Germans would be free to leave the country.

Gerard Malie / AFP
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US Defense Secretary Dick Cheney (R) stands by as

Another toppling

Another regime change came in December 1989 when American forces removed Panamanian strongman Manuel Noriega from power. Here, Defense Secretary Dick Cheney stands by as General Colin Powell, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, briefs reporters about the operation.

Bob Pearson / AFP
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Burning Oilfields

Confronting Saddam

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 which had been torched by retreating Iraqi troops during the ensuing Gulf War.

Mpi / Hulton Archive
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US President George Bush (L) and Soviet counterpar

Last rites

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

Mike Fisher / AFP
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Thomas Bush

Controversial appointment

Bush looks on as Clarence Thomas takes the oath to become a justice of the United States Supreme Court during a ceremony at the White House in October 1991. Holding the bible is Clarence's wife, Virginia. Thomas's confirmation came after contentious Senate hearings that included allegations of sexual harassment.

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

Boris and Bush

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
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Michigan: U.S. presidential candidates Bill Clinto

Remember Ross?

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.

David Ake / AFP
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U.S. President George Bush (L) speaks to a large

Campaign sign

Bush speaks to a group of supporters while a lone protester holds up a sign during a November 1992 campaign stop in New Jersey. Bush lost the election to Bill Clinton.

Robert Giroux / AFP
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US President George Bush caps his pen after signin

Nabobs of NAFTA

Bush caps his pen after signing the North American Free Trade Agreement at the Organization of American States headquarters in Washington D.C., in December 1992. Looking on are Mexican Ambassador Gustavo Petricioli, left, U.S. Trade Representative Carla Hills and Canadian Ambassador Derek Burney.

Robert Giroux / AFP
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An Iraqi resident walks through the rubble of his

Aftermath of an assassination attempt

An Iraqi resident walks through the rubble of his home in Baghdad in June 1993 after a U.S. cruise missile strike on Iraqi intelligence headquarters.The attack was in retaliation for an alleged Iraqi plot to assassinate former President George Bush in Kuwait in April.

Karim Sahib / AFP
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U.S. President George Bush (R) shakes hands with P

Handover handshake

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
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US President George W. Bush (L) is hugged by his f

41 congratulates 43

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
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Russian President Vladimir Putin (C) is welcomed b

Vlad to see you!

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

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Florida Governor Jeb Bush (R) consults early vote

A two-term son

Florida Governor 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 reelection.

Carl Juste / AFP
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Former US Presidents George H. Bush (3R)

Rivals no more

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

Findlay Kember / AFP
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George H. W. Bush, Mike Elliott

You daredevil, you

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

Joe Abeln / Army Golden Knights
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Image: President Obama Honors Medal Of Freedom Recipients

Honored by Obama

President Obama congratulates Bush after presenting him with the 2010 Medal of Freedom in the East Room of the White House February 15, 2011. Obama awarded the medal to twelve pioneers in sports, labor, politics and arts.

Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images North America
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Image: Houston Texans Cheeleaders

All the President's socks

Former President George H.W. Bush wears American flag socks on April 17, 2013 as he presents roses to the new Houston Texans cheerleaders during a ceremony introducing the new squad at the team's NFL football training facility in Houston. GW Bush has always had a penchant for colorful socks.

Smiley N. Pool / Houston Chronicle
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Historic day

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

David J. Phillip
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Image: George H.W. Bush, Mike Elliott

Marking 90

Former President George H.W. Bush, strapped to Sgt. 1st Class Mike Elliott, a retired member of the Army's Golden Knights parachute team, prepare to land on the lawn at St. Anne's Episcopal Church while celebrating Bush's 90th birthday in Kennebunkport, Maine, on June 12, 2014.

Robert F. Bukaty / AP
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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.

Showing solildarity

Former U.S. President George H.W. Bush sits in Walker's Point, Maine as he joined members of his Secret Service detail in shaving his head on July 24, 2013after to show support for Patrick, (surname being withheld per family's request), the two year-old son of a detail member who is being treated for leukemia and started losing his hair.

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Image: Georg H.W. Bush


Former President George H.W. Bush is introduced during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game between Duke and North Carolina State at Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham, N.C., on January 18, 2014.

Gerry Broome / AP
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