The 41st President of the United States, George H.W. Bush served one mandate only as president, but was active as senator, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Director of Central Intelligence and also as the 43rd Vice President of the United States. Not only that, but he was a very successful businessman with his very own oil company, and an important humanitarian once he left office.
Bush Senior’s mandate is remembered for the end of the Cold War (he became President in 1989) and a time of intense change in Europe. He was involved heavily in the reunification of Germany at the time. He also saw America go into the Gulf War and negotiated the immensely influential North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) which created the free trade bloc between the US, Canada and Mexico.
With such foreign policy contributions and of course, as father to the 43rd President of the US, George W. Bush, Bush Senior is a huge figure of the 20th century American history. However, there may be some things you still don’t know about him! Read on to find out the top 8 facts you may not know about George H.W. Bush!
Top 8 things you may not know about George H.W. Bush
1. He and his wife Barbara were the longest-married presidential couple of the US
George H.W. Bush married Barbara in 1945 and went on to stay married to her for 73 years, until her death in April 2018, an interesting fact about George H.W. Bush. They had six children together, 17 grandchildren and 8 great-grandchildren at the time.
They were known to say that their love was a “storybook” romance and Bush Senior is rumoured to have been absolutely heartbroken after Barbara’s death. He was hospitalised twice after she passed away, only to eventually die in the same year, in November 2018 – just 7 months later.
2. Skydiving was his late-life passion
George H.W. Bush had promised himself to one day go skydiving back during the time when he served in wars during his military service.
For his 75th birthday, he went skydiving for the first time. In spite of his family’s concerns, he then went on to do this again on his 80th, 85th and 90th birthdays too.
3. He enjoyed horseshoe throwing as a hobby
Relatively unusually, Bush Senior enjoyed throwing horseshoes as a hobby. He was a member of the National Horseshoe Pitchers Association and installed courts to play at the White House and at Camp David.
This was a well-known hobby as Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip gifted him a silver-plated horseshoe set when they visited the US in 1991.
4. Crazy socks became his fashion trademark
Some public figures have the opportunity to become known for some fashion accessory or interest which then sometimes defines them. This was for George H.W. Bush, his socks, which became famous after his presidential term. An interesting fact about George H.W. Bush is that he would wear eye-catching patterns – he even said in an interview, “the louder, the brighter, the crazier the pattern – the better.”
This even went so far as to inspire the Republican National Committee to come up with a line of socks based on models that Bush Senior had worn.
5. The youngest pilot in the Navy at his time
When George H.W. Bush joined the Navy in 1943, he was only 19 years old, which made him the youngest pilot at the time. He flew 58 combat missions during World War II and was given three Air Medals as well as the Distinguished Flying Cross in recognition of his service.
6. His dislike of broccoli was well-known
It’s one thing not to like a particular food – and George H.W. Bush was perfectly ordinary in not liking broccoli. However, this became a well-known fun fact about George H.W. Bush when he banned it on Air Force One, the presidential plane.
He famously said, “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!”
7. He came together with Bill Clinton in the face of Hurricane Katrina
In August 2005, Hurricane Katrina wreaked havoc and destruction across the American states of Florida and Louisiana, causing absolutely catastrophic damage particularly to the city of New Orleans and leading to 1,200 deaths.
This was one of the biggest disasters in recent American history, and George H.W. Bush famously got involved in helping victims of the hurricane. It was all the more relevant that he did so by joining forces with former American President Bill Clinton, forming the Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund. This was an interesting move as he teamed up with Bill Clinton who had succeeded him as President and was from the rival Democratic Party, however it showed how important it was to be united in the face of adversity of this scale.
8. He shaved his head in solidarity with a Secret Service agent’s son
During his term and beyond, friendship bonds were formed with his Secret Service agents, who would spend all their time protecting the President. In July 2013, photographs were published of a George H.W. Bush with shaved head, and it emerged that he had done this in support of one of his agents’ son, who was suffering from leukemia. He said he wanted to show solidarity when he saw some other agents go bald, and asked himself why he shouldn’t do it too. The photo of him and 2-year-old Patrick went viral. Moreover, this action had a stronger personal connection for Bush Senior, as he and Barbara had lost one daughter to leukemia when she was 3 years old.
George H.W. Bush has gone down in U.S. history as a moderately liked President, without scandals or controversies associated with him, and having contributed heavily to the country’s international image through his foreign policy work. He was well liked and respected and left behind a strong legacy, having lived a long and fulfilling life, with these 8 interesting facts strewn throughout.
I hope that this article on George H.W. Bush facts was helpful. If you are interested, visit the Historical People Facts Page!