George HW Bush dies aged 94

Donald Trump praises ‘unwavering commitment to faith, family, and country’ while Barack Obama notes ‘legacy of service that may never be matched’

George HW Bush dies aged 94

Obituary: steady hand during end of Cold War

‘Read my lips. No new taxes’: quotes from George HW Bush

David Smith

Donald Trump, Barack Obama and George W Bush have led tributes to George HW Bush, the 41st US president who died on Friday at the age 94.

Trump issued a statement less than an hour after Bush’s death being announced and the White House lowered its flag to half mast. “Melania and I join with a grieving nation to mourn the loss of former President George HW Bush, who passed away last night.

“Through his essential authenticity, disarming wit, and unwavering commitment to faith, family, and country, President Bush inspired generations of his fellow Americans to public service — to be, in his words, ‘a thousand points of light’ illuminating the greatness, hope, and opportunity of America to the world.”

The current president noted Bush’s service in the second world war, at the CIA and in political office. He served as vice-president for eight years during Ronald Reagan’s two terms as president, before being elected to the White House himself, culminating in “a peaceful and victorious conclusion of the cold war”.

The statement added: “Along with his full life of service to country, we will remember President Bush for his devotion to family – especially the love of his life, Barbara. His example lives on, and will continue to stir future Americans to pursue a greater cause. Our hearts ache with his loss, and we, with the American people, send our prayers to the entire Bush family, as we honor the life and legacy of 41.”

Trump has previously clashed bitterly with the Bush family, but the speed and warmth of the statement contrasted with his slow response to the death of Republican Senator John McCain earlier this year. The president did not attend McCain’s funeral, where Obama and George W Bush both delivered tributes.

Obama visited George HW Bush at his residence in Houston earlier this week in what was described as a rekindling of what was already a warm friendship. On Friday Obama, the 44th president, said in a statement that America had “lost a patriot and humble servant”. He continued: “It’s a legacy of service that may never be matched, even though he’d want all of us to try.

“After 73 years of marriage, George and Barbara Bush are together again now, two points of light that never dimmed, two points of light that ignited countless others with their example … Our thoughts are with the entire Bush family tonight – and all who were inspired by George and Barbara’s example.”

Bill Clinton, who defeated Bush in the 1992 presidential election, said he and Hillary gave thanks for Bush’s “great long life of service, love and friendship”. “I will be forever grateful for the friendship we formed. From the moment I met him as a young governor invited to his home in Kennebunkport, I was struck by the kindness he showed to Chelsea, by his innate and genuine decency, and by his devotion to Barbara, his children and their growing brood.

“He never stopped serving. I saw it up close, working with him on tsunami relief in Asia and here at home after Hurricane Katrina,” said Clinton, adding that he would “always hold our friendship as one of my life’s greatest gifts”.

Announcing the death of his “dear Dad” in a statement on Friday, Bush said: “George HW Bush was a man of the highest character and the best dad a son or daughter could ask for. 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.”

Other family members added their voices. George P Bush, Texas land commissioner and grandson of the former president, tweeted: “My grandfather was the greatest man I ever knew. His life spanned the American Century – he fought in world war two … took part in the Texas oil boom … served out a distinguished career in public service including serving as president during the final days of the cold war.”

Bush’s death came seven months after that of his wife, the former first lady Barbara Bush, to whom he was married for 73 years – longer than any other president and first lady. At Barbara Bush’s funeral, a eulogy was delivered by Jon Meacham, author of a biography of George HW Bush.

On Friday night, following news of Bush’s death, Meacham tweeted a quotation from a prayer: “Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and may light perpetual shine upon him.”

There were tributes from both sides of the political spectrum to Bush, who was president from 1989 to 1993 and lived longer than any of his predecessors. His vice-president, Dan Quayle, said: “I have often told my children: ‘If you want a role model in your life, look to President George Herbert Walker Bush.’ The world mourns the loss of a great American. But it also celebrates a life well lived.”

The Democratic senator Mark Warner said: “​George HW Bush was a class act – a person of tremendous strength and moral character who exemplified the values of public service.”

Steve Schmidt, a Republican strategist and Trump critic, told the MSNBC network: “Tonight we mark the passing of an American giant … The man who was the architect of the end of the cold war, who showed qualities of restraint that we see missing from leadership in American life today.”

Mikhail Gorbachev, the former ruler of the Soviet Union with whom Bush signed the strategic arms reduction treaty in 1991, which committed the two superpowers to reducing their stockpiles of long-range nuclear weapons and heralded the end of the cold war, expressed his “deepest condolences” and said the former US president was a “true partner”.

British leaders from past and present also joined the chorus of tributes. The prime minister, Theresa May, said Bush was “a great statesman and a true friend of our country”, applauding the “ethos of public service” which served as “the guiding thread of his life and an example to us all.”

John Major, whose 1990-1997 term as British prime minister coincided with the end of Bush’s presidency, said the late president “saw America’s obligation to the world and honoured it.”

“I feel privileged to have worked with him, and even more privileged that he became a lifelong friend,” he told the BBC. “He was, quite simply, one of the most deep-down decent people I have ever known.”

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Source: The Guardian

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