Months into his presidency he was faced with the dissolution of the Soviet Union and he oversaw the removal of Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega.
A brief but deep recession saw the popularity he gained from his diplomatic win evaporate, costing him a second term in office.
He lost his bid for re-election to Bill Clinton in a campaign in which businessman H. Ross Perot took nearly 19 percent of the vote as an independent candidate.
In April, he was admitted to a hospital intensive care unit with an infection, a week after the death of his wife Barbara. They were the longest-married presidential couple in US history.
He was the last World War 2 veteran to serve as president.
He said he and Melania "join with a grieving nation to mourn the loss of former President George HW Bush".
Copa Libertadores final: CONMEBOL suspends 2nd leg
Boca Juniors forward Carlos Tevez was furious with CONMEBOL officials over their reaction to the bus attack. Bowing to Boca's wishes, CONMEBOL finally announced the game was off and would not be played this weekend.
In 2011, Bush was honoured with the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama. While our hearts are heavy today, they are also filled with gratitude.
"Our family has had a front-row seat to the most unbelievable love story", Jeb Bush said.
George H.W. Bush, right, is about to pin a lieutenant bar on his son, George W. Bush.
Bush, who suffers from Parkinson's disease and is wheelchair-bound, has been hospitalized on several occasions for various ailments in recent years, including pneumonia.
Bush Sr. served two years as Ronald Reagan's vice president before upgrading to the most powerful position in the government. In 1943, he was the youngest pilot in the Navy. Bush Sr. was the first vice president to be elected to the presidency since 1836, and also the second person in United States history whose son was able to become president after his father.