George HW Bush, who as the 41st president shepherded the US through a turbulent period in global relations that included the breakup of the Soviet Union and the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, has died. He was 94.
“He was 94 and is survived by his five children and their spouses, 17 grandchildren, eight great-grandchildren, and two siblings. He was preceded in death by his wife of 73 years, Barbara; his second child Pauline Robinson ‘Robin’ Bush; and his brothers Prescott and William or ‘Bucky’ Bush. Funeral arrangements will be announced as soon as is practical.”
Bush Sr served as the 41st US president between 1989 and 1993, his term defined by the end of the Cold War and the first Iraq war against Saddam Hussein.
While his health had been failing in recent years, he still managed to make public appearances.
The former president died at 22:10 local time on Friday (04:10 GMT Saturday), a family spokesperson said.
In April, he was admitted to hospital with a blood infection but had since been discharged. Bush was also being treated for a form of Parkinson’s disease.He died seven months after his wife, Barbara.
“Jeb, Neil, Marvin, Doro, and I are saddened to announce that after 94 remarkable years, our dear Dad has died,” his son George Bush Jr, who went on to serve as the 43rd US president, said in a statement.
His son George W Bush, the 43rd president, issued a statement on behalf of his family: “Jeb, Neil, Marvin, Doro and I are saddened to announce that after 94 remarkable years, our dear Dad has died. George HW Bush was a man of the highest character and the best dad a son or daughter could ask for.
“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.”
“He was a man of the highest character and the best dad a son or daughter could ask for.”
A statement from Donald Trump praised Bush for his “sound judgment, common sense and unflappable leadership”. White House press secretary Sarah Sanders later said Wednesday 5 December would be a national day of mourning, ahead of a state funeral which Trump and his wife Melania would attend. In Argentina for the G20 summit, Trump cancelled a planned press conference “out of respect for the Bush family”. Congressional leaders announced that Bush will lie in state at the Capitol in Washington from Monday night to Wednesday.
President Trump will be attending the funeral in Washington, the White House said, and Wednesday 5 December has been designated a day of national mourning.
He has had difficult relations with the Bush family and did not attend Barbara Bush’s funeral. But he is due to speak to George Bush Jr today.
In one of dozens of tributes from former and current world leaders, Mr Trump praised Bush’s “essential authenticity, disarming wit, and unwavering commitment to faith, family and country.”
The US flag has been lowered to half staff at the White House.
Who was George HW Bush?
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.
He was instrumental in building the international military coalition that forced Iraq’s Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait.
Bush became president after serving two terms as vice-president to Ronald Reagan, but he suffered the ignominy of becoming a single-term president – defeated by Bill Clinton in the 1992 election amid a weakening economy.
His famous 1988 campaign promise – “Read my lips. No new taxes” – came back to haunt him when he felt compelled to reverse policy.
Bush entered politics in 1964 after starting a Texan oil business and becoming a millionaire by the age of 40.
During World War Two, he was an aviator before being shot down by the Japanese in September 1944 while on a bombing raid.
Following his honourable discharge from the navy in 1945, Bush married then 18-year-old Barbara Pierce. Their marriage would last 73 years and they would have six children together.
Who has been paying tribute?
- UK Prime Minister Theresa May said that “in navigating a peaceful end to the Cold War he made the world a safer place for generations to come”
- Former UK PM John Major said he was “privileged to have worked” with George HW Bush
- Queen Elizabeth said he was “a great friend and ally” of the United Kingdom
- Bill Clinton said he and Hillary gave “thanks for his great long life of service, love and friendship”, adding: “I am grateful for every minute I spent with him and will always hold our friendship as one of my life’s greatest gifts”
- Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev hailed Bush’s contribution to ending the Cold War and reducing nuclear weapons. Both men signed the first Start treaty in 1991, which led to big cuts in long-range nuclear weapons. “He was a genuine partner,” Mr Gorbachev said.
When will the funeral take place?
While the White House said Wednesday would be a day of mourning, its statement did not make clear whether the funeral was to be held on the same day.
Announcing Mr Trump’s attendance, White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckerbee Sanders released a statement saying: “A state funeral is being arranged with all of the accompanying support and honors.”
It will take place at the National Cathedral in Washington.
A lying in state in Washington is thought likely, followed by burial at the presidential library in Texas alongside Barbara Bush.
The last state funeral for a former president was that of Gerald Ford, which began on 30 December 2006 with a lying in state and service at the US Capitol.
Further services were held at the Washington National Cathedral on 2 January 2007 and the following day in Grand Rapids, Michigan, his boyhood home.
The US flag was flown at half mast on official buildings for 30 days.