Ex-US President George H.W. Bush dies in Houston at 94

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Washington : George H.W. Bush, the 41st President of the US and father of the 43rd, who steered the nation through a tumultuous period in world affairs, has died at the age of 94 in Houston, his spokesperson Jim McGrath announced.

His death on Friday night came less than eight months after that of his wife of 73 years, Barbara Bush, reports The New York Times.

The cause of his death was not immediately known.

However, the former leader suffered from a form of Parkinson's disease that forced him to use a wheelchair or motorised scooter in recent years, and he had been in and out of hospitals during that time as his health declined.

In April, a day after attending his wife's funeral, he was treated for an infection that had spread to his blood.

Bush, a Republican, was a transitional figure in the White House, where he served from 1989 to 1993, capping a career of more than 40 years in public service.

A decorated Navy pilot who was shot down in the Pacific in 1944, he was the last of the Second World War generation to occupy the Oval Office.

Bush was a skilled bureaucratic and diplomatic player who, as President, helped end four decades of Cold War and the threat of nuclear engagement with a nuanced handling of the collapse of the Soviet Union and the liberation of Eastern Europe.

Born into privilege and a tradition of service, Bush was a son of a senator, student athlete, Texas oilman, Republican congressman, national party chairman, pioneering diplomat and spy chief, reports CNN.

After his own 1980 presidential campaign came up short, he served two terms as Ronald Reagan's Vice President before reaching the pinnacle of political power by winning the 1988 presidential election, soundly defeating Democrat Michael Dukakis.

After losing the White House in 1992, Bush became a widely admired political elder who leapt out of airplanes to mark birthday milestones.

Emphasizing the generosity of his soul, he forged a close and unlikely friendship with Democrat Bill Clinton, the man who ended his presidency.

When Parkinson's disease mostly silenced him in public, Bush flashed his sense of humour by sporting colourful striped socks.