The life and times of our 41st pres­i­dent

Houston Chronicle Sunday - - GEORGE H.W. BUSH: 1924-2018 -


Born in Mil­ton, Mass., the sec­ond of five chil­dren of Prescott and Dorothy Walker Bush. Dorothy wanted to name her son af­ter her father, Ge­orge Her­bert Walker, but couldn’t de­cide be­tween Ge­orge Her­bert Bush and Ge­orge Walker Bush, so young Ge­orge got two mid­dle names.


At­tends Phillips Academy in An­dover, Mass.


Con­tracts a staph in­fec­tion that re­quires hospi­tal­iza­tion, forc­ing him to re­peat a year in An­dover.


Meets his fu­ture wife, Bar­bara Pierce, at a Christ­mas dance.

JUNE 12, 1942

Grad­u­ates from Phillips Academy on his 18th birth­day and en­lists in the armed forces.


Re­ceives his wings and com­mis­sion while still 18, be­com­ing the youngest pi­lot in the Navy.


As­signed to the air­craft car­rier San Jac­into — a prophetic choice, con­sid­er­ing his fu­ture life in Texas.

SEPT. 2, 1944

His Avenger bomber, with the in­scrip­tion “Bar­bara,” is hit by anti-air­craft fire while mak­ing a run over the Bonin Is­land of Chichi Jima, 600 miles south of Ja­pan. Bush bails out and is res­cued by the sub­ma­rine USS Fin­back.

JAN. 6, 1945

Mar­ries Bar­bara, a de­scen­dant of Franklin Pierce, the 14th pres­i­dent of the United States.

SEPT. 18, 1945

Hon­or­ably dis­charged, earn­ing the Dis­tin­guished Fly­ing Cross for his ac­tions over Chichi Jima.


En­rolls in Yale, where he be­comes cap­tain of the base­ball team and a mem­ber of the se­cret so­ci­ety known as Skull and Bones. Has pho­to­graph taken with base­ball le­gend Babe Ruth.

JULY 6, 1946

First child, Ge­orge Walker Bush, is born.

SUM­MER 1948

Grad­u­ates Yale as Phi Beta Kappa, ac­cepts a job with Dresser In­dus­tries and moves his fam­ily to West Texas. Over the next two years, the fam­ily will live in Mid­land and four Cal­i­for­nia cities: Whit­tier, Hunt­ing­ton Park, Bak­ers­field and Comp­ton.

OIL YEARS DEC. 20, 1949

Daugh­ter Pauline Robin­son “Robin” Bush is born.


Forms the Bush-Over­bey Com­pany with part­ner John Over­bey in Mid­land.


Co-founds Za­p­ata Petroleum with Over­bey and William and Hugh Liedtke. Za­p­ata soon makes head­lines with its suc­cess­ful James Field ex­plo­ration in Coke County.


Father Prescott is elected to the Se­nate as a Repub­li­can from Con­necti­cut.

FEB. 11, 1953

Son John El­lis Bush — called Jeb be­cause of his ini­tials — is born.

OCT. 12, 1953

Robin Bush dies of leukemia at age 3.


Co-founds and be­comes pres­i­dent of Za­p­ata Off­shore Co.

JAN. 22, 1955

Son Neil Mal­lon Bush is born.

OCT. 22, 1956

Son Marvin Pierce Bush is born.

AUG. 18, 1959

Daugh­ter Dorothy Walker “Doro” Bush is born.

SUM­MER 1959

The Bush fam­ily moves to Hous­ton.


Be­comes chair­man of the Har­ris County Repub­li­can Com­mit­tee.


Prescott Bush an­nounces his re­tire­ment from the Se­nate, cit­ing ill health.


Loses U.S. Se­nate race to Demo­crat Ralph Yar­bor­ough.


Wins a seat in Congress, be­com­ing the first Repub­li­can to rep­re­sent a Hous­ton district on Capi­tol Hill and the first fresh­man in 63 years to be of­fered a seat on the pow­er­ful Ways and Means Com­mit­tee.

JAN. 3, 1967

First day in of­fice as U.S. rep­re­sen­ta­tive for Texas’ 7th Con­gres­sional District.


Wins re-elec­tion to the House.


Chal­lenges Yar­bor­ough again but ends up los­ing the Se­nate race to Lloyd Bentsen, who un­seats the lib­eral in­cum­bent in the Demo­cratic pri­mary.


Se­lected by Richard Nixon as U.S. am­bas­sador to the United Na­tions.

JAN. 3, 1971

Fi­nal day as a mem­ber of Congress.


Serves as U.S. am­bas­sador to the U.N.

OCT. 8, 1972

Prescott Bush dies of lung can­cer.


Leaves the U.N. to be­come chair­man of the Repub­li­can Na­tional Com­mit­tee seven months af­ter the Water­gate break-in and one month be­fore the Se­nate ap­points a select com­mit­tee to in­ves­ti­gate the grow­ing scan­dal. Bush quickly be­comes one of Nixon’s staunch­est pub­lic de­fend­ers.

AUG. 6, 1974

Bush tells Nixon that Water­gate is sap­ping pub­lic con­fi­dence in him.

AUG. 7, 1974

Bush sends a let­ter to the pres­i­dent sug­gest­ing that he re­sign.

AUG. 8, 1974

Nixon re­signs.

AUG. 24, 1974

Pres­i­dent Ger­ald Ford calls Bush at Ken­neb­unkport to tell him that he has cho­sen Nel­son Rock­e­feller as vice pres­i­dent. Many Repub­li­can lead­ers had pushed for Ford to select Bush. Ford of­fers Bush any am­bas­sador­ship.

SEPT. 26, 1974

Bush chooses China and be­comes chief of the U.S. li­ai­son of­fice to the Peo­ple’s Repub­lic of China.

OC­TO­BER 1974

Be­fore the U.S. and China de­velop diplo­matic ties, Bush trav­els to Pek­ing (now Bei­jing) to di­rect the fore­run­ner of the first U.S. em­bassy in China.

JAN. 30, 1976

Be­comes of the Cen­tral the 11th In­tel­li­gence di­rec­tor Agency. To win Bush’s con­fir­ma­tion in the Demo­cratic-dom­i­nated Se­nate, Ford had promised that he would not choose Bush as his run­ning mate in 1976.

JAN. 20, 1977

Last day as CIA di­rec­tor. MAY 1, 1979 Bush an­nounces his can­di­dacy for pres­i­dent at the Na­tional Press Club in Wash­ing­ton, D.C.

FALL 1979

La­bels for­mer Cal­i­for­nia Gov. Ron­ald Rea­gan’s eco­nomic plan “voodoo eco­nom­ics.”

JAN. 21, 1980

Bush up­sets front-run­ner Rea­gan in the Iowa cau­cus.

FEB. 23, 1980

At N.H., a de­bate Rea­gan in at­tempts Nashua, to change the rules to al­low sec­ond-tier can­di­dates to join him and Bush. Rea­gan says, “I am pay­ing for this mi­cro­phone, Mr. Green,” a line bor­rowed from Hol­ly­wood. Bush’s cam­paign never re­cov­ers.

MAY 26, 1980

Bush of­fi­cially pulls out of the race.

JULY 16, 1980

At the Con­ven­tion Repub­li­can in Na­tional Detroit, Bush re­ceives a phone call in his ho­tel room from Rea­gan, ask­ing him to be the vice pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee. Bush ac­cepts.

NOV. 4, 1980

Rea­gan and Bush de­feat Jimmy Carter and Wal­ter Mon­dale in a land­slide.


Bush is sworn in for the first of two terms as vice pres­i­dent.

MARCH 30, 1981

Rea­gan is shot. Bush hur­ries back to D.C. from Austin, where he had been sched­uled to ad­dress the Texas Leg­is­la­ture.

OCT. 11, 1984

Af­ter his spir­ited vice pres­i­den­tial de­bate with Demo­cratic nom­i­nee Geral­dine Fer­raro, Bar­bara Bush de­scribes Fer­raro as some­thing that “rhymes with witch.”

NOV. 6, 1984

Rea­gan/Bush re-elected with the largest Elec­toral Col­lege mar­gin in Amer­i­can his­tory.

JULY 13, 1985

Bush be­comes act­ing pres­i­dent of the United States — the first so des­ig­nated — when Ron­ald Rea­gan un­der­goes surgery.

DEC. 3, 1986

In his first pub­lic state­ment about the IranCon­tra af­fair, Bush ad­mits that “mis­takes were made.”

OCT. 13, 1987

An­nounces can­di­dacy for the Repub­li­can nom­i­na­tion for pres­i­dent.

JAN. 25, 1988

Bush lashes out at CBS an­chor­man Dan Rather dur­ing a tele­vised in­ter­view about the IranCon­tra af­fair.

FEB. 8, 1988

Places third in the Iowa cau­cus be­hind Sen. Bob Dole and tel­e­van­ge­list Pat Robert­son.

FEB. 16, 1988

Come­back win in the New Hamp­shire pri­mary

sets Bush on course to the Repub­li­can nom­i­na­tion.

AUG. 16, 1988

Bush picks Dan Quayle as run­ning mate. Con­tro­versy erupts over Quayle’s Na­tional Guard ser­vice dur­ing the Viet­nam War. News re­ports note that Bush’s son Ge­orge also served in the Na­tional Guard.

AUG. 18, 1988

Ac­cepts the Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial nom­i­na­tion and fa­mously de­clares, “read my lips — no new taxes.”

NOV. 8, 1988

Bush and Quayle carry 40 states in a com­fort­able vic­tory over Michael Dukakis and Lloyd Bentsen, the man who de­feated Bush 18 years ear­lier.


In­au­gu­rated as 41st pres­i­dent of the United States.

FEB. 9, 1989

Ad­dresses a joint ses­sion of Congress and re­veals a plan to re­duce the na­tion’s record deficit with­out a tax in­crease.

MAY 12, 1989

De­liv­ers com­mence­ment ad­dress at Texas A&M Uni­ver­sity.

JUNE 3, 1989

Chi­nese gov­ern­ment bru­tally re­acts to Tianan­men Square. Bush is crit­i­cized for not be­ing tough enough.

NOV. 9, 1989

As the Ber­lin Wall falls, Bush de­clines to join the cel­e­bra­tions.

JULY 21, 1989

Signs the Clean Air Act in the Rose Gar­den at the White House.

DEC. 3, 1989

At­tends sum­mit with So­viet Pres­i­dent Mikhail Gor­bachev in Malta.

DEC. 20, 1989

Af­ter two U.S. sea­men are killed and two Amer­i­cans beaten by mem­bers of Pana­ma­nian De­fense Force, the U.S. in­vades Panama and cap­tures Manuel Nor­iega.

FEB. 20, 1990

Nom­i­nates David Souter, an ob­scure New Hamp­shire judge, to the U.S. Supreme Court.

JUNE 1, 1990

Bush and Gor­bachev meet in Wash­ing­ton, D.C.

JUNE 26, 1990

Bush breaks his “no new taxes” pledge dur­ing bud­get ne­go­ti­a­tions with con­gres­sional Democrats.

JULY 26, 1990

Bush signs the Amer­i­cans With Dis­abil­i­ties Act.

AUG. 2, 1990

Sad­dam Hus­sein in­vades Kuwait.

AUG. 7, 1990

Bush an­nounces Op­er­a­tion Desert Shield, moves U.S. troops into Saudi Ara­bia and be­gins to build a multi­na­tional coali­tion.

SEPT. 11, 1990

Ad­dresses a joint ses­sion of Congress on the Iraqi in­va­sion of Kuwait.

SEPT. 30, 1990

Bush lead­ers and an­nounce con­gres­sional a bi­par­ti­san bud­get agree­ment. House Mi­nor­ity Whip Newt Gin­grich launches an un­suc­cess­ful re­volt of House con­ser­va­tives to kill the plan.

NOV. 15, 1990

Signs the Clean Air Act amend­ments of 1990.

NOV. 22, 1990

On Thanks­giv­ing Day, Bush and com­mand­ing Gen. Nor­man Sch­warzkopf visit U.S. troops in Saudi Ara­bia.

JAN. 12, 1991

Af­ter a long and con­tentious de­bate, the Se­nate passes a res­o­lu­tion autho­riz­ing Bush to wage war to lib­er­ate Kuwait.

JAN. 16, 1991

The first Iraq war be­gins with the bomb­ing of Bagh­dad. Bush ad­dresses the na­tion to de­clare that “Op­er­a­tion Desert Storm” has be­gun.

FEB. 28, 1991

Cease-fire de­clared. Bush de­cides not to send U.S. forces to Bagh­dad.

MARCH 29, 1991

Lee At­wa­ter, Bush’s 1988 cam­paign man­ager and po­lit­i­cal ad­viser, dies of brain can­cer.

JULY 1, 1991

Nom­i­nates Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court to fill the seat va­cated by Thur­good Mar­shall.

AUG. 1, 1991

Signs the START arms re­duc­tion treaty in Moscow.

AUG. 1, 1991

Cau­tions So­viet of the the Ukrainian Supreme So­viet So­cial­ist Repub­lic against break­ing away from the So­viet Union. Con­ser­va­tive com­men­ta­tor William Safire dubs it the “Chicken Kiev Speech.”

OCT. 31, 1991

A nor’easter de­mol­ishes the Bush home at Walker’s Point in Ken­neb­unkport. The storm is later made fa­mous in “The Per­fect Storm.”

DEC. 2, 1991

John Su­nunu is forced to re­sign as Bush’s chief of staff amid ac­cu­sa­tions that he mis­used fed­eral funds.

FEB. 13, 1992

Bush for­mally an­nounces his can­di­dacy for re­elec­tion.

FEB. 20, 1992

Dal­las bil­lion­aire Ross Perot an­nounces run for pres­i­dency on CNN’s “Larry King Live TV” show.

APRIL 29, 1992

Los An­ge­les erupts in ri­ot­ing af­ter mo­torist Rod­ney King is sav­agely beaten by po­lice. Bush is crit­i­cized for re­act­ing slowly.

MAY 23, 1992

Or­ders the Coast Guard to in­ter­cept boats with Haitian refugees.

JUNE 28, 1992

Bush’s daugh­ter mar­ries Demo­cratic lob­by­ist Bobby Koch.

JULY 23, 1992

Perot with­draws from race, declar­ing that the Demo­cratic Party has been re­vived.

AUG. 20, 1992

Ac­cepts nom­i­na­tion at the Repub­li­can Na­tional Con­ven­tion in Hous­ton.

OCT. 1, 1992

Perot drops back into the race.

OCT. 15, 1992

At a de­bate in Rich­mond, Va., Bush looks at his watch dur­ing a wordy an­swer by one of his op­po­nents. The mo­ment is cap­tured on TV and comes to sym­bol­ize the mantra of Demo­cratic vice pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Al Gore: “It is time for them to go.”

NOV. 4, 1992

Bill Clin­ton de­feats Bush in pres­i­den­tial elec­tion. Many Re­pub­li­cans blame Perot’s can­di­dacy for si­phon­ing votes from the in­cum­bent.

NOV. 19, 1992

Bush’s mother dies.

JAN. 20, 1993

Fi­nal day as 41st pres­i­dent. Re­turns to Hous­ton.


Ge­orge Bush Pres­i­den­tial Li­brary and Mu­seum is ded­i­cated at Texas A&M Uni­ver­sity.

JUNE 9, 1999

Parachutes days be­fore his 75th birth­day.

JAN. 20, 2001

At­tends the in­au­gu­ra­tion of his son Ge­orge W. Bush as the 43rd pres­i­dent.

JUNE 11, 2004

In a witty, heart­felt ora­tion, Bush eu­lo­gizes Rea­gan at the 40th pres­i­dent’s fu­neral.

JUNE 12, 2004

Cel­e­brates his 80th birth­day by parachut­ing twice onto the grounds of his pres­i­den­tial li­brary.

NOV. 22, 2004

New York Gov. Ge­orge Pataki names Bush an hon­orary mem­ber of the board re­build­ing the World Trade Cen­ter.

JAN. 3, 2005

Bush and Bill Clin­ton are named by the Pres­i­dent Ge­orge W. Bush to lead a na­tion­wide cam­paign to help the vic­tims of the In­dian Ocean tsunami.

AUG. 31, 2005

Again teams with Clin­ton to co­or­di­nate pri­vate re­lief do­na­tions for Hur­ri­cane Ka­t­rina vic­tims.

DEC. 5, 2006

Breaks down in tears while ad­dress­ing Florida leg­is­la­tors as he men­tions his son Jeb’s lead­er­ship qual­i­ties.

DEC. 26, 2006

With Ger­ald Ford’s death, Bush be­comes the old­est sur­viv­ing ex-pres­i­dent.

JAN. 10, 2009

At­tends the com­mis­sion­ing of the last Nim­itz­class air­craft car­rier, USS Ge­orge H.W. Bush, in New­port News, Va.

JAN. 20, 2009

Bids an emo­tional farewell to the White House on his son’s last day in of­fice. As he leaves the White House grounds, he salutes the build­ing.

JUNE 12, 2009

Goes sky­div­ing to cel­e­brate his 85th birth­day.

FEB. 15, 2011

Awarded the Medal of Free­dom by Pres­i­dent Barack Obama.

EARLY 2012

Tells Pa­rade mag­a­zine he suf­fers from Vas­cu­lar Parkin­son­ism, re­quir­ing Bush to use a wheel­chair. The con­di­tion is most likely caused by a se­ries of small strokes.


Spends seven weeks in a Hous­ton hos­pi­tal with bron­chi­tis.

APRIL 2014

The Com­mit­tee Repub­li­can says Na­tional it has raised $1 mil­lion sell­ing col­or­ful socks like those Bush has taken to wear­ing.

JUNE 12, 2014

Goes sky­div­ing again, to cel­e­brate his 90th birth­day, but this time from a he­li­copter.

DEC. 24, 2014

Hos­pi­tal­ized for a week af­ter ex­pe­ri­enc­ing short­ness of breath.

JULY 15, 2015

Falls in his Ken­neb­unkport home, break­ing a bone in his neck. “When he starts telling semidirty jokes to the nurse,” ob­serves Jeb, “we know he’s on the re­bound.”

APRIL 17, 2018

Bar­bara Bush, his wife of 73 years, dies at their home in Hous­ton, sur­rounded by fam­ily, at age 92.

NOV. 30, 2018

Dies at his home in Hous­ton, sur­rounded by fam­ily, at age 94.

Chron­i­cle file

Pres­i­dent-elect Ge­orge Bush, with his wife, Bar­bara, ac­knowl­edges the crowd on Nov. 8, 1988, at the Ge­orge R. Brown Con­ven­tion Cen­ter af­ter he won elec­tion as the 41st pres­i­dent of the United States.

Chron­i­cle file

Ge­orge and Bar­bara Bush cel­e­brate his elec­tion to Congress from Texas’ 7th District on Nov. 8, 1966.

Brett Coomer / Staff pho­tog­ra­pher

For­mer Pres­i­dent Ge­orge H.W. Bush is saluted as he ar­rives at the in­au­gu­ral win­ter com­mence­ment con­vo­ca­tion at Texas A&M Uni­ver­sity on Dec. 12, 2008, in Col­lege Sta­tion.

Marcy Nighswander / AP

Bush, then the 41st pres­i­dent, joins for­mer pres­i­dents Ron­ald Rea­gan, Jimmy Carter, Ger­ald Ford and Richard Nixon on Nov. 5, 1991, at the ded­i­ca­tion of Rea­gan’s pres­i­den­tial li­brary in Simi Val­ley, Calif.

Chron­i­cle file

Bush shows off the Astros jersey he was given by the team on June 12, 2004.

Tom Har­vey / Ad­mi­ral Nimitz Mu­seum

A young Bush writes in his log­book in the cock­pit of his plane dur­ing World War II.

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