George H.W. Bush, the 41st president of the United States and former Texas legislator, died Friday evening in Maine at age 94.
Bush, who served as president from 1989 to 1993, was hospitalized in May for low blood pressure and fatigue. Just one month earlier, his wife of 73 years, Barbara Bush, died in Houston after battling a multitude of illnesses for three decades.
Born in Massachusetts, Bush enlisted into the U.S. Navy during World War II and flew 58 combat missions. He received the Distinguished Flying Cross, three Air Medals, and a Presidential Unit Citation during his time in the Navy. After an honorable discharge, Bush began a career in the oil industry. He started the Bush-Overbey Oil Development Company and the Zapata Petroleum Corporation, soon moving his family from West Texas to Houston.
In 1963, Bush was elected chairman of the Harris County Republican Party. Three years later he won election to the U.S. House of Representatives, serving constituents in the 7th District. In 1971, he was named Ambassador to the United Nations, and ran the U.S. Republican National Committee during the Watergate years. Later, two years as director of the CIA proved crucial in his political career, garnering him widespread respect from across the spectrum. That led Bush to run for president in 1980.
Though Bush didn't win the Republican nomination in 1980, he was selected as the vice presidential nominee by candidate Ronald Reagan. With Reagan's victory and two terms in the Oval Office, Bush became a national figure as vice president. In 1988, he succeeded Reagan as president, defeating Michael Dukakis in the general election.
As president, Bush struggled to deal with the high cost of defense during the Reagan years, presiding over a time of increased unemployment and economic strife. A promise of "no new taxes" proved unsustainable, causing a rift within his own party. Still, Bush supported increased activity by NASA, including exploration of Mars and the Moon; signed into law the Americans with Disabilities Act; and reauthorized the Clean Air Act. He also oversaw military activity against Iraq in the Gulf War, a victory for a coalition that included American forces in the effort to liberate Kuwait from occupation.
In 1992, Bush was defeated in his attempt to serve a second term as president. In recent years, Bush worked closely with former president Bill Clinton to aid in fundraising for disaster victims. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011.
Bush is survived by his children Jeb, Neil, Marvin, Dorothy, and former president George W. Bush.
"George H. W. Bush was a man of the highest character and the best dad a son or daughter could ask for," said George W. Bush in a statement Friday.
Funeral arrangements will be announced "as soon as is practical," according to Bush's office.