The life and times of our 41st president
EARLY YEARS JUNE 12, 1924
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.
WAR YEARS JUNE 9, 1943
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.
COLLEGE YEARS SUMMER 1945
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.
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.
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.
CONGRESSIONAL YEARS 1966
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.
CIVIL SERVICE YEARS DEC. 11, 1970
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
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.
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.
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.
VICE PRESIDENTIAL YEARS JAN. 20, 1981
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.
PRESIDENTIAL YEARS JAN. 20, 1989
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.
POSTWHITE HOUSE YEARS NOV. 6, 1997
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.
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.
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.
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.
George and Barbara Bush celebrate his election to Congress from Texas’ 7th District on Nov. 8, 1966.
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.
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.
Bush shows off the Astros jersey he was given by the team on June 12, 2004.
A young Bush writes in his logbook in the cockpit of his plane during World War II.