Former President George H.W. Bush had a “great faith” in God and looked forward to heaven during his final hours, according to his friend and former secretary of state, James Baker.
Bush passed away Friday at the age of 94. He was the nation’s 41st president, having won election in 1988 after serving two terms as vice president under Ronald Reagan. He also was President Ford’s CIA director and President Nixon’s ambassador to the United Nations. His son, George W. Bush, was elected president in 2000.
Baker was a close friend.
“I’m comforted … by the way in which 41 was called to heaven,” Baker said on NBC’s Meet the Press. “He had a very gentle passing.”
Baker went to Bush’s home at 7:15 the morning he died.
“And one of his aides said, ‘Mr. President, Secretary Baker’s here.’ And he looked up. He opened both eyes. He looked at me. He said, ‘Where are we going?’ And I said, ‘We’re going to heaven, Jefe.’ And he said, ‘That’s where I want to go.’”
“Jefe,” Bush’s nickname, is Spanish for “chief.”
Bush “had great faith in God,” Baker told CBS’ Face the Nation.
“He was a religious person who didn't wear his religion on his sleeve but he was a man of great faith,” Baker said.
Bush was Episcopalian. Author Doug Meacham, in his biography on Bush, Destiny and Power, reported that the former president once was asked if he was “born again.” Bush replied, “If by ‘born again’ one is asking, ‘Do you accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior?’ then I could answer a clean-cut ‘Yes.’ No hesitancy, no awkwardness.’”
Michael Foust is a freelance writer. Visit his blog, MichaelFoust.com.
Photo courtesy: Getty Images/Ronald Martinez/Stringer
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, The Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.