George H.W. Bush, the 41st U.S. president and father of the 43rd president George W. Bush, died on November 30, 2018, at the age of 94. He passed away less than eight months after his wife, former first lady Barbara Bush, died at the age of 92.
The former president will lie in state in U.S. Capitol from Monday to Wednesday. There will be a state funeral for George H.W. Bush on Wednesday at the Washington National Cathedral, and a memorial service for the former president will be held on Thursday in Houston. He will be laid to rest at George H.W. Bush Presidential Library Center in College Station, Texas.
George H.W. Bush was born into an exceptionally privileged, wealthy, and influential family—and was undoubtedly the patriarch of the modern Bush political dynasty. His eldest son, George W. Bush, was the governor of Texas and a two-term U.S. president. His second son, Jeb Bush, was the governor of Florida for eight years. And his grandson, George P. Bush, has served as Texas land commissioner since 2015.
The Bushes are the epitome of “old money”—their wealth stretches back generations, and they are rich, but never flashy. George H.W. Bush’s wife Barbara famously wore fake pearls and $29 shoes to George H.W. Bush’s inaugural ball in 1989. The two were married in 1945, and were celebrated for being dedicated to each other and their ever-expanding family no matter where life took them, including Texas, the White House, and their family compound in Kennebunkport, Maine.
Barbara and George H.W. Bush were married for 73 years. She passed away on April 17, and was laid to rest at her husband’s presidential library in Texas.
But while George H.W. Bush had an estimated net worth of $23 million, he was not the richest U.S. president by a long shot. After figures are adjusted for inflation, presidents such as George Washington ($525 million), Herbert Hoover ($75 million), and John F. Kennedy ($1 billion) were far wealthier. And while the details of Donald Trump’s net worth are murky, it’s been estimated that he reportedly has more money than every other U.S. president combined.
Here’s what we know about Bush’s money, from his childhood, through his political career, and into his later years:
The Bush family comes from old money
The Bush family has been thriving in the top echelon of politics and business for well over a century. George H.W. Bush’s grandfather was Samuel Prescott Bush, a wealthy industrialist who ran the Rockefeller-backed Buckeye Steel Castings Company in Ohio during the heyday of the railroad era.
When Samuel died in 1948, his son Prescott S. Bush—the father of George H.W. Bush—turned down his inheritance, according to Jacob Weisburg’s 2008 book The Bush Tragedy.
Prescott Bush achieved incredible success regardless. A renowned athlete at Yale who served in World War I, this member of the Bush clan was at various times a U.S. Senator from Connecticut, a partner in the Wall Street investment firm Brown Brothers Harriman & Co., and the director of the Columbia Broadcasting System and the Prudential Insurance Company. He died in 1972 and left behind an estate worth nearly $3.5 million, the equivalent of $20 million in today’s dollars. H. W. Bush received a small fraction—a $140,000 inheritance—of his father’s estate.
Prescott’s son, George H.W. Bush, undoubtedly had a privileged upbringing. He grew up in ritzy Greenwich, Conn., and attended the exclusive Phillips Academy in Andover, Mass. in addition to Yale University. But before going to college, on his 18th birthday in 1942, he enlisted and became the youngest pilot in the Navy when he received his wings, eventually flying 58 combat missions in World War II. (In fact, he almost died when he was 20 while serving in the Navy.)
George H.W. Bush has said the financial support he received from his family after the war was limited. “I’d saved up $3,000 in the Navy,” Bush wrote in his 1987 autobiography, Looking Forward. “Not much, but enough to get us started independently. We were young, still in our early 20’s, and we wanted to make our own way, our own mistakes, and shape our own future.”
After marrying Barbara Pierce in 1945 and earning an economics degree from Yale in 1948, Bush set off to Midland, Texas. He took a sales job with the oil and energy firm Dresser Industries, which was owned by a Bush family friend and decades later would merge with Halliburton.
In addition to family connections, George H.W. Bush was the beneficiary of a big investment to truly launch his career: His father and an uncle invested $350,000 (equivalent to more than $3 million today) to help him start his own oil drilling business in the 1950s, the New York Times reported.
George H.W. Bush’s turn to politics
By 1966, Bush had relocated to Houston and was elected to Congress. He sold his share in the oil drilling business, Zapata Offshore Corporation, for $1.1 million.
After a failed run for the U.S. Senate, Bush served as ambassador to the United Nations under President Richard Nixon, and starting in 1975, served as the director of the CIA under President Gerald Ford.
Bush sought the Republican nomination for president in the 1980 election, but lost in the primaries to the more conservative Ronald Reagan. As a consolation, Bush became vice president under Reagan for two terms, before running and winning the presidency for himself in 1988.
During the 1988 presidential campaign, then-Vice President George H.W. Bush had an estimated net worth of $2 million (roughly $4 million in today’s dollars)—most of which was maintained in a blind trust, according to the New York Times.
The Bush real estate gem: a sprawling compound in Kennebunkport
The Bush family owns one of America’s best-known vacation estates, in Kennebunkport, Maine. Officially called Walker’s Point but more often referred to simply as the Bush compound, it’s one of the town’s most popular and highest-rated places to visit on TripAdvisor even though it’s not actually a tourist attraction or open to visitors.
According to the Boston Globe, George H.W. Bush was there every summer of his life—often staying straight through from May into October—except for one, in 1944 when he was serving in the Pacific during World War II.
The name Walker’s Point refers to the property’s original owners, who bought it in the late 19th century: David D. Walker and George H. Walker. They were the great grandfather and grandfather, respectively, of George H.W. Bush. The latter and Barbara purchased the estate after George H. Walker died in 1953. Several generations of the Bush clan, including former President George W. Bush and his family, have been regular visitors to the estate. Many world-renown public figures have stayed at the Bush family estate too. These guests include then Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1992 and Russian leader Vladimir Putin, who stayed with the Bushes in Kennebunkport for two days in 2007.
During his presidency, the 11-acre Bush family compound in Kennebunkport, Maine, was worth roughly $900,000. But the Kennebunkport property’s value has since skyrocketed—rising to $3.5 million in 1991, and then more than doubling by 2010, when it was priced at $8.4 million. An adjacent property, also owned by the Bush family, was valued at $2.8 million that year.
The Bush’s Kennebunkport compound’s main home, built around 1920, is 7,000 square feet and has six bedrooms, six bathrooms, and three fireplaces. In 2015, Barbara and George’s son Jeb Bush, the former governor of Florida and one of many candidates to lose to Donald Trump in the most recent Republican presidential primaries, built a 3,000-square-foot cottage at the compound for $600,000. It sits on 1.3 acres and has an assessed value of $1.3 million.
Bush’s post-presidency life: Pension, speaking fees, and other income
Like many other former presidents, George H.W. Bush received an annual pension of $205,700. Taxpayers also cover funding for travel, office spaces, personal staff, and other expenses of former presidents. The elder Bush totaled $794,000 in expenses in the 2015 fiscal year. (For the sake of comparison, George W. Bush’s pension and expenses came to just over $1 million that year, while former President Bill Clinton’s total was $924,000.)
George H.W. Bush commanded high speaking fees during his post-White House years. George W. Bush said his dad regularly made between $50,000 to to $75,000 for each paid speech he gave. (Meanwhile, the younger Bush has been known to make $100,000 to $175,000 per speech, and he gave at least 200 speeches from the time he left office in 2009 through 2015.)
George H.W. Bush has also received significant royalties for the books he authored or co-authored over the years. These include his autobiography Looking Forward, A World Transformed, which Bush wrote with his former national security advisor Brent Scowcroft, and All the Best, George Bush: My Life in Letters and Other Writings, published in 2014.
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