Washington: George H.W. Bush, the 41st President of the US who is best known for sanctioning the Gulf War, presiding over the fall of the Berlin Wall and steering America through the end of the Cold War, has died at the age of 94 in Houston.
The announcement of his passing on Friday night was made in a statement by his son and 43rd US President George W. Bush on Saturday. “Jeb, Neil, Marvin, Doro, and I are saddened to announce that after 94 remarkable years, our dear dad has died,” Bush said.
George Herbert Walker Bush served as a fighter pilot during the Second World War, a Congressman, Ambassador to the UN, Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Director and served two terms as Ronald Reagan’s Vice President between 1981 and 1989, before concluding his four-decade long political career by serving as the US President from 1989 to 1993.
During his stint in the White House, Bush Sr. saw the end of the Cold War, the first Gulf War and the invasion of Panama while the Soviet Union collapsed and Germany reunified.
Despite military and diplomatic successes, he was unable to secure re-election and handed over the reins of the White House to Bill Clinton and retired to his home in Boston, Texas, along with his wife Barbara Bush.
Bush Sr’s death came eight months after that of his spouse to whom he was married for 73 years. They had six children together. The cause of his death was not immediately known.
He was suffering from a form of Parkinson’s disease that left him on a wheelchair over the last few years. He was also frequently hospitalised especially for respiratory problems.
President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump said Bush guided the nation and the world to a victorious end to the Cold War.
“With sound judgement, common sense and unflappable leadership, President Bush guided our nation and the world to a peaceful and victorious conclusion of the Cold War,” Trumps said.
Bush Sr. was also lauded by former President Barack Obama who called him “a patriot and humble servant”.
“His life was a testament to the notion that public service is a noble, joyous calling,” Obama said.
Grandson George P. Bush said: “He was a good man. His courage was matched by his compassion; and his dedication to country was equalled only by his devotion to his family.”
Tricia Nixon Cox and Julie Nixon Eisenhower, the daughters of former President Richard Nixon, said: “George H.W. Bush lived a life that was purposeful, and extraordinarily rewarding – for our nation, and for our world.”
Former President Bill Clinton said he and his wife Hillary Clinton gave “thanks for his great long life of service, love and friendship”.
Bush Sr’s single presidential term in office was dominated by foreign policy — the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe and Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990.
The former leader will be best remembered as the commander-in-chief who sanctioned the Gulf War, codenamed Operation Desert Storm — a war waged by coalition forces from 35 nations led by the US against Iraq in response to the latter’s invasion and annexation of Kuwait.
Operation Desert Storm land battle pushed Iraqi troops out of Kuwait. But it stopped short of ousting the Iraqi strongman, setting up the second Gulf War that was initiated in 2003 and resulted in Saddam Hussein’s hanging.
In later life, Bush Sr’s character came under scrutiny when he was accused of groping a number of women at public events. A statement issued by his spokesman after a recent incident said he would never “intentionally cause anyone distress”.
Bush Sr. had also ordered US troops to invade Panama after an off-duty Marine was killed by forces loyal to dictator Manuel Noriega.
The force quickly overwhelmed Noriega’s men and he was overthrown in just four days and was later sentenced to 40 years in the US on drug charges.
He also had to walk a fine line with China, imposing sanctions after a 1989 government crackdown on protestors at Tiananmen Square in Beijing, but also seeking to prevent a permanent rupture in relations.
Bush Sr. was born in Milton, Massachusetts, on June 12, 1924. His father was an Ohio native and business executive who became a Wall Street banker and a senator from Connecticut.
His mother, a Maine native, was the daughter of a wealthy investment banker.
Bush senior was also famous for sporting colourful striped socks.