A Tribute to George H.W. Bush

Nov 30, 2018

Former President George H.W. Bush died Friday, Nov. 30, 2018. He was 94 years old.

The LBJ Presidential Library and Johnson family remember President George H.W. Bush for his leadership in public service, military heroism, civility, and commitment to civil rights.

The Bush and Johnson families share a long history and friendship, beginning in the 1950s when Lyndon Johnson served in the U.S. Senate with Prescott Bush, George H.W. Bush’s father. Although from different political parties, the two men enjoyed a productive working relationship steeped in mutual respect.

Bush embraced the spirit of bipartisanship when he was elected to Congress as the first Republican representing the Houston area. Although it hurt him politically, he voted for the Civil Rights Act of 1968, signed by President Johnson on April 11, 1968. In a speech in Houston, shortly after he cast the vote, Bush explained the motivation behind his decision. "I voted...because of a feeling deep down in my heart that this was the right thing for me to do. That this was the right thing for America."

"I have not known a person who was more gracious and thoughtful. He always extended every kindness to me and my family. For President Bush, friendship was first: politics was second." - Lynda Johnson Robb, daughter of President Johnson and Lady Bird Johnson

"One might disagree with a policy or a decision of George Herbert Walker Bush. But no one ever questioned his patriotism, his human decency, his selfless service to his God, country, family, and friends. He represented the best within us. Our family and our nation loved him. Many feel that he has died of a broken heart. His marriage is surely a lasting inspiration to us all." - Luci Baines Johnson, daughter of President Johnson and Lady Bird Johnson

Condolence Book
LBJ Library visitors may remember President George H.W. Bush by signing a condolence book located in the library's lobby. The book will be sent to the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library & Museum.

President Johnson and George H.W. Bush

The LBJ Library is fortunate to have one photo that demonstrates the respect and loyalty between George H.W. Bush and Lyndon Johnson. On the day Johnson left the White House, Jan. 20, 1969, he and the Johnson family departed from Andrews Air Force Base to return to Texas. As President Johnson was walking toward the plane, George H.W. Bush, then a Republican congressman from Texas, reached out his hand in a gesture of bipartisan friendship and goodwill. In 2009, then LBJ Library Director Mark K. Updegrove gave a copy of this photo to George and Barbara Bush in a meeting at the Bush Library in College Station, Texas.

LBJ shakes hands with George H.W. Bush
President Johnson and Lady Bird Johnson bid farewell to crowd. President Johnson (back to camera, mid frame) shakes hands with Congressman George H.W. Bush. Jan. 20, 1969. LBJ Library photo by Frank Wolfe, #B3126-10. [Download photo]

Mark Updegrove with George H.W. Bush
President George H.W. Bush and then LBJ Library Director, now LBJ Foundation President and CEO, Mark K. Updegrove. 2009. Photo courtesy of the Bush Library.

Additional photos of President Johnson and George H.W. Bush

President Johnson shakes hands with George H.W. Bush
President Johnson shakes hands with George H.W. Bush in the receiving line at the swearing-in ceremony for Wilbur Cohen. May 16, 1968. LBJ Library photo by Mike Geissinger, #B118-14. [Download photo]

Lyndon B. Johnson speaks with George H.W. Bush at a party honoring Governor and Mrs. John B. Connally at the Bayou Club in Houston, Texas. Feb. 13, 1969. LBJ Library photo by Frank Wolfe, #D3148-30a. [Download photo]

LBJ Liberty and Justice for All Award

In 2013, the LBJ Foundation presented the LBJ Liberty and Justice for All Award to former President George H.W. Bush. With his wife, Barbara, at his side, the former president accepted the award from President Johnson's daughters, Lynda Johnson Robb and Luci Baines Johnson.

L-R: George H.W. Bush, Lynda Johnson Robb, Luci Baines Johnson, and Barbara Bush. Credit: McNee Productions. [Download photo]

"Presentation of this award to President Bush recognizes his demonstrated qualities of civility and bipartisanship in public service," said Larry Temple, chairman, LBJ Foundation. "The period of his presidency stands as a well-remembered time when those qualities characterized leadership in our country at the highest levels – a condition from which all Americans benefited."

Other Resources via Mark. K. Updegrove, once director of the LBJ Presidential Library and now president and CEO of the LBJ Foundation

A revealing, personal interview with President and Mrs. Bush
In 2012, Updegrove had the rare opportunity to have a candid and reflective conversation with George and Barbara Bush at their home in Maine. The exclusive interview was a feature cover story in PARADE magazine on July 15, 2012. The Bushes spoke about their proudest accomplishments, how Washington has changed, and the joys of grandkids. Read it here.

Parade Magazine Cover

Statesman and friend
In 2013, Updegrove wrote in Politico about the legacy and character of George H.W. Bush as a statesman and friend. Read it here.

A final word
In 2017, Updegrove released his book, The Last Republicans: The Extraordinary Relationship Between George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush, which includes insight from the many conversations and interviews he's conducted with the Bushes in recent years.

As a presidential historian for ABC News, Updegrove will be providing perspective and personal remembrances on the life of George H.W. Bush and his legacy.