Tributes roll in for leader remembered as a hu­man­i­tar­ian and states­man

The News-Times (Sunday) - - Front Page - By Mike Tol­son

Tributes from around the world poured in Satur­day fol­low­ing the death of Ge­orge Her­bert Walker Bush, the 41st pres­i­dent of the United States, who died in Houston late Fri­day af­ter decades as a pub­lic ser­vant that set in mo­tion an en­dur­ing fam­ily legacy. He was 94.

“The legacy of Ge­orge H.W. Bush will be for­ever etched in the his­tory of Amer­ica and the world. It is a life­long record of self­less pa­tri­otic ser­vice to our na­tion,” for­mer Sec­re­tary of State James Baker said in a state­ment.

“He was the youngest Navy pi­lot in World War II, a Texas con­gress­man, U.N. am­bas­sador, Amer­ica’s first en­voy to China, CIA di­rec­tor, vice pres­i­dent and pres­i­dent,” he said. “In each and ev­ery one of th­ese po­si­tions, he led with strength, in­tegrity, com­pas­sion and hu­mil­ity — char­ac­ter­is­tics that de­fine a truly great man and ef­fec­tive leader.”

Bush died peace­fully at his

Houston home with Baker and sev­eral mem­bers of his ex­tended fam­ily at his side. Other fam­ily mem­bers were on a speak­er­phone, talk­ing to Bush in his fi­nal mo­ments.

His last words, Baker said, were “I love you, too,” spo­ken to his son, for­mer Pres­i­dent Ge­orge W. Bush.

Baker and other world lead­ers past and present on Satur­day saluted Bush, the last pres­i­dent to have served in the mil­i­tary dur­ing World

War II and the last whose world­view had been shaped by the im­per­a­tive to con­tain Com­mu­nist ex­pan­sion­ism. His ex­pe­ri­ence in in­ter­na­tional di­plo­macy served him well as he dealt with the un­rav­el­ing of the Soviet Union as an op­pres­sive su­per­power, and later the rise of China as a com­mer­cial be­he­moth and po­ten­tial part­ner.

As cau­tious and re­strained as he was in for­eign mat­ters, Bush had an in­cli­na­tion for per­sonal risk-tak­ing that showed up early in his life, when he be­came a car­rier pi­lot in the war — one of the most dan­ger­ous

jobs in the mil­i­tary — and then struck out on his own at war’s end, eschew­ing a com­fort­able job in New York to be­come an oil­man in Texas.

Like­wise, when his in­ter­est turned to pol­i­tics a decade or so later, he was more than will­ing to give up his ex­ec­u­tive suite for a chance at pub­lic of­fice.

Steeped in no­blesse oblige and the im­por­tance of pub­lic ser­vice, Bush al­ways felt the lure of po­lit­i­cal life. It fi­nally snared him in 1962 when he was cho­sen to head Houston’s fledg­ling GOP. He spent the next three decades in the po­lit­i­cal lime­light,

en­joy­ing a roller-coaster ca­reer that saw more de­feats than vic­to­ries yet im­prob­a­bly landed him in the White House.

Bush was elected pres­i­dent in 1988 as the suc­ces­sor to Ron­ald Rea­gan, a con­ser­va­tive icon whom he ran against and then served as vice pres­i­dent. Un­like Rea­gan, he was a prag­matic leader guided by mod­er­a­tion, con­sen­sus build­ing, and a sense for prob­lem-solv­ing shorn of par­ti­san rhetoric. Like his fa­ther, who served in the U.S. Se­nate, he swore no al­le­giance to or­tho­dox tenets. That put him at odds

with a take-no-pris­on­ers at­ti­tude of anew breed of Repub­li­cans and helped do in his re-elec­tion bid, send­ing him home to Houston in forced re­tire­ment.

“I think over the years he fares well,” said pres­i­den­tial his­to­rian Henry Brands, the au­thor of seven pres­i­den­tial bi­ogra­phies and a pro­fes­sor at the Univer­sity of Texas. “If vot­ers have a ref­er­en­dum and they vote you down, that au­to­mat­i­cally puts you down a rung. It’s un­fair. Bush al­ways was rated very highly by his­to­ri­ans more than he was by the pub­lic. I think that is chang­ing.”

Hearst Con­necti­cut Me­dia file photo

Pres­i­dent Ge­orge H.W. Bush re­sponds to the crowd at Yale Univer­sity grad­u­a­tion on May 27, 1991.

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