Ex-president George H W Bush dies at 94

WASHINGTON: Former US president George H W Bush, who presided over the end of the Cold War and routed Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi army but lost a chance for a second term after breaking a no-new-taxes pledge, died on Friday at the age of 94.
Bush, the 41st president of the United States, who lived longer than any of his predecessors and possessed one of the most impressive resumes in American political history, died peacefully at his home in Houston, according to a source close to the family.
His death at 10:10 pm Central time (0410 GMT) was first announced in a brief statement issued by longtime spokesman Jim McGrath, who said funeral arrangements had yet to be scheduled. No further details about the circumstances of his death were immediately available.
He was the father of former president George W Bush, who served two terms in the White House in the 2000s, and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, who unsuccessfully sought the 2016 Republican nomination for president.
“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,” George W Bush said in a statement.
The elder Bush, a Republican like his sons, also served as vice president for eight years during Ronald Reagan’s two terms as president, before being elected to the White House himself.
He defeated former Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis, the Democratic nominee, in the 1988 presidential campaign, and lost his 1992 re-election bid to Democrat Bill Clinton.
Bush’s death came seven months after that of his wife, former first lady Barbara Bush, to whom he was married for 73 years.
The former president, who served as a US naval aviator during World War II, attended his wife’s funeral in Houston in a wheelchair and wore a pair of colourful socks festooned with books, in honour of his late wife’s commitment to literacy.
He was admitted to a Houston hospital with a blood infection that led to sepsis a day after her funeral in April.
The Bushes had been regular fixtures in their adopted hometown of Houston after his presidency, though public appearances became rarer because of health problems as they reached their 90s.
But Bush was on the field in November 2017 as his eldest son, who served as the 43rd US president, tossed out the first ball at one of the Houston Astros’ World Series games against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
He also was joined by Barbara for the ceremonial coin toss when Houston hosted the Super Bowl in February 2017.
President Donald Trump paid tribute in a statement to his predecessor’s “essential authenticity, disarming wit and unwavering commitment to faith, family and country.”
Trump added that Bush “inspired generations of his fellow Americans to public service — to be, in his words, ‘a thousand points of light’ illuminating the greatness, hope and opportunity of America to the world.”
British prime ministers, past and present, paid tribute to Bush on Saturday.
“His ethos of public service was the guiding thread of his life and an example to us all,” said Prime Minister Theresa May. “In navigating a peaceful end to the Cold War, he made the world a safer place for generations to come.”
Former prime minister John Major, Bush’s contemporary in power, said he was a citizen of the world, not just the president of a single country. “If you travel around the world today, you find his reputation in the Middle East, the Far East, in China is still remarkably high,” he told the BBC. — Reuters