BOSTON (CBS) – George Herbert Walker Bush, the 41st President of the United States died Friday. He was 94 years old.
His most fervent desire was to be the president who made America a kinder, gentler nation, shining with “a thousand points of light” and his march to the White House marked the culmination of a lifetime of public service.
He was born June 12, 1924 in Milton, Massachusetts at the family’s home on Adams Street. He went to the prestigious Phillips Academy in Andover, where he became a student body leader and a captain of the baseball and soccer teams.
CBS Dallas Coverage: President George H. W. Bush 1924 – 2018
During his senior year, the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor shook the nation and Mr. Bush enlisted in the U.S. Navy when he turned 18. He ended up flying more than 50 combat missions. When he was shot down over the Pacific Ocean, he was rescued by an American submarine. The sorrow over the loss of his crew members was said to have stayed with Mr. Bush his entire life.
After World War II, he graduated from Yale University, where he played baseball and even met Babe Ruth.
He later moved to Texas and entered the oil business before winning a seat in Congress in 1966. He became the Ambassador to the United Nations under President Richard Nixon and Chairman of the Republican National Committee. When Gerald Ford became president, Mr. Bush was named the U.S. Ambassador to China and later became Director of the Central Intelligence Agency.
He ran for president in 1980. Ronald Reagan won the nomination, chose Mr. Bush as his running mate and after they defeated President Jimmy Carter, Mr. Bush would spend the next eight years as vice president. In 1988 he won the nomination, chose Senator Dan Quayle as his running mate and beat Massachusetts governor Michael Dukakis to become the 41st President of the United States.
He also made a promise that would win him votes and haunt him later.
“Read my lips. No new taxes,” he said.
Bush-Quayle won with 54-percent of the vote. During the Bush presidency, the Berlin Wall fell and the Soviet Union dissolved, but it was Operation Desert Storm that proved to be both a challenge and a triumph. The goal was to push Iraq out of Kuwait. President Bush assembled an international coalition to rout Saddam Hussein’s army.
He also signed the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Clean Air Act and fought for the controversial NAFTA, but a sluggish economy would force him out of office. To reduce the budget deficit, President Bush agreed to raise taxes and his anti-tax pledge went out the window. Bill Clinton denied him a second term in 1992. After leaving the presidency, he left politics for the most part, staying out of the limelight, even when his son George W. Bush became president.
In retirement, Mr. Bush and his wife of 73 years Barbara lived in Texas and their summer home in Kennebunkport, Maine.
He went on to raise millions of dollars for charity, even joining Clinton to help tsunami and Hurricane Katrina victims.
His sense of fun and adventure never left him. He celebrated his 70th, 80th, 85th and 90th birthdays by skydiving.
In 2011, President Obama awarded him the Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor.
“I’m a quiet man, but I hear the quiet people others don’t. The ones who raise the family, pay the taxes, meet the mortgage and I hear them and I am moved and their concerns are mine,” he said in August 1988 when he accepted the Republican nomination for president.
“I will keep America moving forward, always forward for a better America, for an endless, enduring dream and a thousand points of light. This is my mission, and I will complete it.”