George H.W. Bush, the 41st president of the United States, a man who helped bring the Cold War to an end and who led the United States into the first Gulf War, died Friday, a spokesman said. He was 94.
Bush also served as vice president of the United States under Ronald Reagan, and he was a congressman, an ambassador and Director of Central Intelligence. His wife of more than 70 years, Barbara Bush, died in April. He was the father of George W. Bush, the 43rd president of the United States.
Away from the Oval Office, Bush was a man of tremendous energy, as well as a sportsman and sports fan.
He also was one of the best athletes ever to serve in the Oval Office. A left-handed first baseman, Bush played in the first two College World Series on the Yale baseball team. In 1947, his Elis earned their way to the World Series by beating a Fordham team that included outfielder Vin Scully, who would go on to a Baseball Hall of Fame career as a Dodgers broadcaster. Yale lost to Cal in 1947 and USC in 1948.
Bush, captain of the 1948 team, kept his old Yale baseball glove in an Oval Office desk drawer during his four years in the White House. Asked what he learned playing baseball at Yale, Bush said, "The importance of teamwork and working hard together toward a common goal."
He always continued his connection with the national pastime, with a special affinity for the Texas Rangers, once owned by George W. Bush. On Oct. 28, 2017, the two former presidents opened Game 5 of the World Series between the Dodgers and Astros in Houston, with George W. throwing out the first pitch and George H.W. saying, "Play ball." A National College Baseball Hall of Fame facility in Lubbock, Texas, is named after the elder Bush.
"The Houston Astros had the great privilege of hosting President Bush and his wife Barbara at Astros games for many years," the team said in a statement. "As loyal fans, they stuck with us through the challenging years and were there to celebrate Houston's first World Series championship in 2017. ... As our nation mourns his passing, our entire Astros organization sends heartfelt condolences to the Bush family. We will greatly miss him."
"George H.W. Bush was a man of the highest character and the best Dad a son or daughter could ask for," George W. Bush said in a statement Friday night. "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."
President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump issued a statement Friday praising Bush for his "sound judgment, common sense and unflappable leadership." The Trumps said Bush "inspired generations of his fellow Americans to public service."
"Along with his full life of service to country, we will remember President Bush for his devotion to family -- especially the love of his life, Barbara," the Trumps said. "His example lives on, and will continue to stir future Americans to pursue a greater cause."
Golf is also a major part of the George H.W. Bush legacy. The Walker Cup trophy was donated by, and named after, his grandfather, George Herbert Walker, who headed the United States Golf Association. Bush served as chair of the First Tee program for youth golf and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2011 under the Lifetime Achievement category. He played the game with flair, often speeding about the links near Walker's Point, his vacation home in Kennebunkport, Maine.
Bush retained his adventurous spirit throughout his life. Despite suffering from vascular parkinsonism, Bush celebrated his 90th birthday with a parachute jump from a helicopter near his home in Kennebunkport. As a wartime Navy pilot, he was once forced to parachute for his life in enemy waters, so he celebrated landmark birthdays -- including his 75th, 80th and 85th birthdays -- by skydiving.
"President Bush was a true friend of the NFL and a genuine fan who understood the power of sports to bring people together," NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement posted on Twitter on Saturday. "Our entire league is grateful for this extraordinary man, whose life was devoted to our country and its people and whose legacy is an America and a world filled with freedom and opportunity. He will be greatly missed."
After graduating from Phillips Academy in 1942, Bush became a naval aviator at the age of 18. He flew 58 combat missions, for which he received the Distinguished Flying Cross. After World War II, he received an accelerated degree at Yale and upon graduation moved to Texas, where his oil business made him a millionaire.
In 1966, Bush was elected U.S. representative for the 7th congressional district of Texas. After stints as United Nations ambassador, envoy to China and CIA director, Bush was Reagan's vice president for two terms and then won the 1988 presidential race.
Foreign affairs were the hallmark of Bush's presidency. He oversaw the dissolution of the Soviet Union, and on Jan. 16, 1991, he announced the start of Operation Desert Storm. That military operation was a response to then-Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait. Its mission was to expel occupying Iraqi forces from Kuwait. Coalition forces swiftly drove Iraq from Kuwait, advancing into Iraq and reaching a cease-fire within 100 hours.
In 1992, he lost his bid for a second term to Bill Clinton, with economic problems at home, not foreign affairs, the central issue.
In 2005, Bush started the Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund with President Clinton, and on Feb. 15, 2011, he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama.
In addition to George W. Bush becoming president, another son, Jeb, was elected Florida governor in 1998 and made an unsuccessful run for the GOP presidential nomination in 2016.
The other Bush children are sons Neil and Marvin and daughter Dorothy Bush LeBlond. Another daughter, Robin, died of leukemia in 1953, a few weeks before her fourth birthday.