Former President George Herbert Walker Bush, who as the nation’s 41st president (1989-1993) dedicated himself to traditional American values and once pledged to use American strength as a “force for good,” has passed away at the age of 94.
Born in Milton, Massachusetts, on June 12, 1924, Bush was an esteemed student who held several leadership positions including class president and secretary of the student council at Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts. After graduating in 1942, he decided to enlist in the armed forces, and became a naval aviator at the age of 18. Bush’s superiors commissioned him as an ensign in the United States Naval Reserve upon completion of a ten-month course; he was the youngest naval aviator to that date. Bush would fly 58 combat missions during World War II and received the Distinguished Flying Cross for bravery in action after he was shot down by Japanese forces and rescued by a U.S. submarine.
Mere weeks after his return from combat, Bush married Barbara Pierce. The union produced six children: George Walker Bush (who would become the nation’s 43rd president), Pauline Robinson “Robin” Bush (who died as a child), John Ellis “Jeb” Bush (who served as the 43rd governor of Florida) and Neil Mallon Pierce Bush, Marvin Pierce Bush and Dorothy Bush Koch (all of whom distinguished themselves politically and within the private sector).
Bush attended Yale University after his discharge from the armed forces.
Bush’s father–United States Senator Prescott Bush–enjoyed business connections which gave the younger Bush the foothold he needed in the oil industry and by the 1960s, he was a millionaire. By that time, however, he had already gravitated toward public service and politics.
He served as Chairman of the Republican Party for Harris County, Texas in 1964, served two terms as a Representative to Congress for Texas and found the time to make two (unsuccessful) bids for the state Senate. The Senate loss would prove a boon, however, for his political ambitions.