George Herbert Walker Bush, who advocated a “kinder, gentler” conservatism, pursued policies that helped topple the Soviet empire and initiated military campaigns that ousted one foreign dictator and crippled another, has died. He was 94 and lived longer than any other U.S. president.
Bush, who was elected the 41st president of the United States and fathered the nation’s 43rd, died late Friday.
“George H. W. Bush was a man of the highest character and the best dad a son or daughter could ask for,” former President George W. Bush said in a statement announcing his father’s death. “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 designated Wednesday as a national day of mourning, and a representative for the New York Stock Exchange said markets would close on that day, in keeping with the Big Board’s longstanding tradition.
A state funeral was being arranged at the Washington National Cathedral, and the White House said the president and first lady Melania Trump will attend. After years of animosity with the Bush family, Trump was not invited to the funeral of matriarch Barbara Bush in April.
Among Bush’s many accomplishments, he presided over the demise of the Cold War, punctuated by the fall of the Berlin Wall.
“I pay tribute to George Bush’s contribution toward this historic achievement. He was a genuine partner,” former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev said Saturday, according to Russia’s Interfax news agency. “It was a dramatic time demanding huge responsibility from everyone. The result was the end of the Cold War and the nuclear arms race.”
Bush had worked for decades in government before ascending to the nation’s highest office, having served as United Nations ambassador, CIA chief and vice president under Ronald Reagan, a towering political figure still venerated by the GOP.