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George H.W. Bush, 41st US president who summered in Maine, dies at 94

Former President George H.W. Bush died late Friday night at age 94.

(NEWS CENTER Maine) — Former President George H.W. Bush has died. He was 94 years old.

Family spokesperson Jim McGrath confirmed the news late Friday night in a tweet.

"George Herbert Walker Bush, World War II naval aviator, Texas oil pioneer, and 41st President of the United State of America, died on November 30, 2018," the statement read. "He was 94 and is survived by his five children and their spouses, 17 grandchildren, eight great-grandchildren, and two siblings."

According to the former president's official obituary, Bush "loved nothing more than fishing and spending time with his family in Maine – where he also reveled in driving his motorboat at high speeds and entertaining an endless procession of guests."

"[Bush] made seven post-presidential parachute jumps, the most recent of which took place at St.

Ann’s Episcopal Church near his seaside home in Maine on June 12, 2014, to mark his 90th

birthday," the obituary reads. "Mr. Bush considered Houston, Texas his home – and Walker’s Point, the family home in Kennebunkport, Maine where he spent a part of every summer except 1944 (when he was serving in World War II), as his “anchor to windward."

Those connected to Maine shared their reactions following the announcement of Bush's death.

Bush's final tweet on Oct. 5 saluted Sen. Susan Collins for her "political courage and class" an hour after the senior senator from Maine declared support for Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

President Bush will lie in state in Capitol Rotunda from Monday evening through Wednesday morning.

George H.W. Bush's Maine roots

Though he made his home in Texas, the 41st president of the United States had deep New England roots.

Mr. Bush was born in Massachusetts, his father served as U.S. senator from Connecticut, and he spent at least part of every summer of his life but one at the family home in Kennebunkport.

In the eight years Bush served as vice president to Ronald Reagan, and the four years of his term as president, George Bush brought the political spotlight to his second home.

In 1988, two weeks after being elected president, George H. W. Bush stood before a crowd in Kennebunkport in the fading light of a late November afternoon. It was Bush's first trip back to Maine since the election, and a few hundred people had gathered to greet him on the Village Green, a neatly-maintained park that Bush had passed countless times in his life.

Many of the people he looked out on were friends. Some had known him for decades. Both he and they knew that winning the presidency would change the town, no matter how much they might try to resist it. "I want Kennebunkport to retain its magic," he told them. "And I want to come here a lot." He paused and added with a smile: "That's not a threat."

The family ties to Kennebunkport ran deep. George H. W. Bush's grandparents started vacationing there in the late 1800s. His mother was born there; his parents were married there. The family home sat on a rocky outcropping that jutted into the Atlantic called Walker's Point, named after his mother's side of the family.

In a life that encompassed military service, the oil business, diplomacy and politics, Bush had lived in dozens of different places, including two months in Lewiston during World War II. The one constant had been the family's vacation home in Kennebunkport, where Bush had spent some time every summer except one when overseas in the Navy.

"Walker's Point in particular but Kennebunkport in general," his son Neil said, "is the rock and the foundation on which we build and maintain our family."

The pleasure that Bush got simply from being in Kennebunkport was unmistakable.

"I remember the first time he came back here after he was elected president," his White House Press Secretary Marlin Fitzwater said. "We walked onto the grounds [of his home] and he just suddenly took off his coat and his shirt and his socks and shoes — nothing on but his dress pants — and dove into the water. And I thought, my god, our new president's going to kill himself right here in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean."

The presidency of George H.W. Bush

During his presidency, Mr. Bush invited world leaders and heads of state to his home, among them French President Francois Mitterand and British Prime Minister John Major. He went fishing with locals. He jogged and played golf and threw horseshoes and sped across the waves in his powerboat.

His daughter Doro summed up his feelings: "This is the place he loves more than any in the world."

Being defeated for re-election in 1992 gave Bush something he'd never had before--the time to spend not just a week or two at Walker's Point, but an entire summer. Eventually he and his wife Barbara settled into a routine, arriving in Maine around Memorial Day and staying well into the fall before returning to Texas. They invited friends and family, and expanded their compound by building homes for their children. For more than 90 years, George Bush found relaxation and rejuvenation in the town that became synonymous with his family's name.

Bush never wrote a memoir, but he did publish a volume of letters that provided an illuminating portrait of him. In signing a copy of the book for a visitor to his home, Bush penned an inscription that was heartfelt. "All the best," he wrote, "from this 'Point' I love so much."

Here's the official obituary:

Official George H.W. Bush obituary