9 Fascinating Facts About George H. W. Bush’s Life and Work
George Herbert Walker Bush was a businessman and politician who served as the vice president in Ronald Reagan’s office (1981 – 1989) and the 41st president of the United States (1981 – 1993). He was born in 1924 in Milton, Massachusetts, and he died in Houston, Texas at the age of 94.
During his presidency, Bush assembled a multinational force to compel the withdrawal of Iraq from Kuwait in the Persian Gulf War. Bush launched two military operations against Panama and Iraq, and both of these were deemed successful.
However, his popularity was dropping across the states because of an economic recession. All of that led to him losing the re-election in 1992 to Bill Clinton. Clinton stayed in the office for two mandates and was succeeded by George H. W.’s son, George W. Bush. (1) (2)
Even though you probably do know a lot of facts about George H. W. Bush, there are probably many more you never heard about. In this article, we’ll go through some of the most interesting ones. Without any further ado, let’s find out more!
1. He came from a political family
George H. W. Bush came from a family that was wealthy and politically involved. His father, Prescott Bush, was a United States Senator from Connecticut, and a businessman. This trend will continue with his children, too. One of his sons, George W. Bush, will go on to become the 43rd president of the United States. Another one of his children, Jeb Bush, served as the governor of Florida and ran for president in 2016 against Donald Trump. (1)
2. Before he became the vice-president, he had one of the most impressive resumes
At the age of 56, George H. W. Bush had a very impressive resume on his hand. He was a highly decorated war hero. He earned a degree in economics from Yale in less than two and a half years. After that, Bush went on to work on the oilfields in Western Texas, and he started two successful companies.
He tried to run for the US Senate in Texas, but he lost the race both times. On the other hand, he was elected two times to the US House. Bush served as an Ambassador to the United Nations, chairman of the Republican National Committee, head of the US Liaison Office in China, and director of CIA.
Once he left the CIA, he went on to become the chairman of the Executive Committee of the First International Bank in Houston, a part-time professor of Administrative Science at Rice University’s Jones School of Business, and director of the Council on Foreign Relations. Bush was certainly committed to building out his business and political career. (3)
3. Bush was one of the youngest pilots in the Navy
One of the most intriguing facts about George Bush Senior is how early he joined the military. While Bush was in high school, World War II broke out. Right after high school graduation, he decided to join the US Navy. He was only 18 years old at the time, and one of the youngest pilots. In 1944, he was shot down and barely managed to survive four hours on a raft in the Pacific Ocean before he was rescued by an American submarine.
He went back to flying and executed 58 combat missions. During his service, Bush received many awards, including a Presidential Unit Citation, three Air Medals, and a Distinguished Flying Cross for the mission in which he was shot down. Years later, he said “I finished the bombing run, which was no heroic thing. They wrote it up as heroism, but it wasn’t – it was just doing your job.” (4)
4. George and Barbara were the longest-married couple in the presidential history
Bush met his wife Barbara when the two of them were only 16 years old. They met at a dance at the Round Hill Country Club in Greenwich, Connecticut. Before he joined the Navy, he proposed to her. Bush went on to become a Navy torpedo bomber pilot and named three of his planes after her.
Once he returned home, the couple got married in 1945. They were married for 73 years until Barbara’s death in 2018, which made them the longest-married presidential couple in US history. However, just a year later, Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter beat their record. The two of them have been married for 75 years now. (5)
5. His daughter, Pauline, died of leukemia
One of the most heartbreaking facts about George Bush Senior’s life is the loss of his daughter. Pauline Robinson Bush was the second child and the eldest daughter of George and Barbara. She was born in 1949 in California, but just after his birth, the family relocated to Texas.
When Robin was just 3 years old, she was diagnosed with advanced leukemia. She was given very little time to live, and her parents flew her to New York for treatment. Robin spent the next six months there, but despite doctors’ efforts, she died a couple of months before her fourth birthday. Robin’s death prompted the couple to establish a foundation for leukemia research. (6)
6. Bush celebrated his 75th, 80th, 85th, and 90th birthday by skydiving
When Bush was about to turn 75 years old, he knew that a regular birthday party just won’t do. On June 13, 2004, he jumped with the United States Army Golden Knights Parachute Team at the Bush Presidential Library near Houston.
More than 4,000 people witnessed his jump, including the actor and martial-arts expert Chuck Norris and Fox News Washington commentator Brit Hume. The celebrity duo also jumped as part of the event.
Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachov was also present on the site, and Bush invited him to jump with him. However, Gorbachov said he had never jumped and was too old to do that now.
Bush liked skydiving so much that he repeated the jump on his 80th, 85th, and 90th birthdays. (7)
7. He served as a president before he became the president
From 1981 to 1989, Bush served as a vice president for Ronald Reagan’s office. On March 30, 1981, Ronald Reagan was shot by John Hinckley Jr in Washington D.C. Reagan was returning to his limousine after speaking at the Washington Hilton Hotel, when Hinckley seriously wounded him.
Reagan was facing death and went into an 8-hour long surgery. During these 8 hours, Bush acted as a president instead of Reagan. The reason for the attempted assassination was quite bizarre, as Hinckley believed that the shooting would impress the actress Jodie Foster, with whom he was obsessed with. (8)
8. He banned broccoli aboard Air Force One
When you’re a president of the United States, you have a lot of power. Sometimes, how presidents exercise this power can be very unusual. George Bush Senior decided to use that to introduce a broccoli ban aboard Air Force One.
When he was asked about that, he answered simply: “I do not like broccoli, and I haven’t liked it since I was a little kid and my mother made me eat it. And I’m President of the United States, and I’m not going to eat any more broccoli!” (9)
9. He was knighted by the Queen Elizabeth II
The Queen met most of the presidents during her 68-year reign (everyone except Lyndon Johnson). However, her visits to Bush Senior were some of the most notable ones. When she visited the states in 1991, she attended a state dinner and planted a tree at the White House. During this trip, she also took place in an Orioles game at Camden Yards in Baltimore.
George H. W. Bush also held a very special honor from the Queen. In 1993, he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II. After his death, Queen issued a touching letter, in which she writes:
“It was with sadness that I learned of the death of President George H W Bush last night. President Bush was a great friend and ally of the United Kingdom. He was also a patriot, serving his country with honor and distinction in Office and during the Second World War. Prince Philip and I remember our days in Texas in 1991 with great fondness. My thoughts and prayers are with President Bush’s family and the American people.” (10)
George H. W. Bush Facts
There you have it – those were some of the most interesting facts about George Bush Senior, his family, and life. However, there’s a lot more you can learn about the 41st president of the United States. When you do, don’t forget to leave a note in the comments below!
Which one of these facts about George H. W. Bush surprised you the most? Which ones did you know about before?