A Life of Service: George H. W. Bush

George H.W. Bush, 1963, by Andy Hanson, DeGolyer Library

A Texas icon and 41st president, George H. W. Bush (1924-2018) died November 30, 2018 at his home in Houston. Bush, the patriarch of one of the most influential political families in the U.S., was 94. Barbara, his wife of 73 years, died last April. They had six children, among them George W. Bush, 43rd U.S. president.

Soon after the attack on Pearl Harbor, at 18, Bush enlisted in the armed services and became the youngest Navy aviator. During WWII, he flew 58 combat missions and earned the Distinguished Flying Cross for bravery in action. He and Barbara married in 1945, and the Bush family moved to Texas in 1948 to enter the oil business. Bush served two terms as a representative to Congress from Texas. He went on to serve as ambassador to the United Nations, chairman of the Republican National Committee, chief of the U.S. Liaison Office in the People’s Republic of China, and became director of the Central Intelligence Agency. He was chosen as a running mate by Ronald Reagan, and served as his vice president.


President George H. W. Bush After Throwing Opening Pitch at Texas Rangers Opening Game, 1991. The former first baseman for Yale is shown grimacing here after his pitch had bounced in the dirt. Mr. Bush made very few errant throws in his career!   By Andy Hanson, DeGolyer Library



In 1988, Bush won the general presidential election, with Senator Dan Quayle of Indiana as his running mate, and became the 41st president of the United States (1989–1993). His single term of office was during a rapidly changing world: the end of the Cold War, the dissolution of the Communist empire, the fall of the Berlin Wall. In response to Iraq’s Saddam Hussein led invasion of Kuwait in 1990, working with United Nations partners, Bush organized a coalition of nations to oppose the invasion resulting in the Persian Gulf War. After 42 days, a cease-fire was signed.

President Barack Obama awarded George H. W. Bush with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, in 2010, lauding his more than 70 years of service, his humility and decency that “reflects the very best of the American spirit.” At the news of Bush’s passing, Obama said, George H. W. Bush’s “life is a testament to the notion that public service is a noble, joyous calling….”  “It’s a legacy of service that may never be matched, even though he’d want us to try.” Bush will be buried next to his wife at his presidential library in College Station.






Dallas Mayor Starke Taylor, Kay Bailey Hutchison, and Barbara Bush, ca.1985. By Andy Hanson, DeGolyer Library





















By Anne E. Peterson, Curator of Photographs, DeGolyer Library.

The Andy Hanson Photographs collection, held at the DeGolyer Library, is an important visual record of Dallas history. The large archive of more than 79,000 prints and 373,000 negatives provide a “whos who” of people living in Dallas and the politicians and celebrities who visited the city from 1960 to 2008.