He was elected as the 41st President in 1988 and served a single term before losing his 1992 re-election bid to Democrat Bill Clinton.
Months into his presidency he was faced with the dissolution of the Soviet Union and he oversaw the removal of Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega.
In August 1990 he responded to Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait, creating a national coalition led by the US that liberated the oil-rich yet tiny nation but stopped short of toppling the Iraqi dictator.
It was during the presidency of his son, George W Bush, that Saddam’s rule would eventually end.
Bush Snr, a Second World War veteran, was born George Herbert Walker Bush in Milton, Massachusetts, on June 12 1924.
He enlisted on his 18th birthday and was the youngest pilot in the US Navy when he received his wings and went on to fly 58 combat missions.
One saw him shot down by Japanese anti-aircraft fire over the Pacific, leaving him to be rescued by a US submarine.
He was later awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for bravery in action.
In January 1945 he married Barbara Pierce, with whom he went on to have six children - George, Robin (who died as a child), John (also known as Jeb), Neil, Marvin, and Dorothy.
His political career saw him occupy a number of positions including congressman, CIA director and Ronald Reagan’s vice president for the Republican Party before becoming the first member of the Bush political family to reach the nation’s top office.
George W Bush would go on to be elected president in 2000 after Mr Clinton and served two terms.
Another son, Jeb - a former Florida governor - made an unsuccessful bid for the Republican nomination in 2016.
Only one other US president, John Adams, had a son who also became president.
In 2011, Bush was honoured with the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama.
In his later years he developed a form of Parkinson’s disease and used a motorised scooter or a wheelchair for mobility.
Bush was admitted to hospital in Maine in 2015 after falling at his summer home and breaking a bone in his neck.
He was taken to hospital the previous December because of shortness of breath and spent Christmas 2012 in intensive care for a bronchitis-related cough and other issues.
Despite the loss of mobility, Bush celebrated his 90th birthday by taking part in a tandem parachute jump in Kennebunkport, Maine.
Two years on and Bush led a group of 40 injured veterans on a fishing trip at the helm of his speedboat, three days after his 92nd birthday celebration.
In January 2017, his office announced that he and his wife would not attend President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration due to the former president’s age and health.