0739 GMT December 17, 2018
The 41st US president's passing came just months after the death in April of his wife Barbara – his "most beloved woman in the world" – to whom he was married for 73 years.
"Jeb, Neil, Marvin, Doro and I are saddened to announce that after 94 remarkable years, our dear Dad has died," former president George W. Bush said in a statement.
He died "at home in Houston surrounded by family and close friends," family spokesman Jim McGrath told AFP.
Bush suffered from Parkinson's disease and had used a wheelchair for several years. He had been in and out of hospital in recent months, including right after Barbara's death.
The former president, a Republican, is expected to lie in state in the US Capitol and then be buried at his presidential library in Texas, where students held a candlelight vigil early Saturday, local media reported.
President Donald Trump, who was in Argentina attending a G20 summit of world leaders, hailed Bush's "sound judgment, common sense, and unflappable leadership."
At the White House, the American flag flew at half-staff early Saturday.
Bush – who was born on June 12, 1924 in Milton, Massachusetts into a wealthy New England political dynasty – put his studies and career on hold to join the US Navy during World War II.
He flew 58 combat missions and was shot down over the Pacific by Japanese anti-aircraft fire.
He returned home and graduated from Yale University, eventually launching a brief career in the oil industry in Texas.
But the world of politics was calling.
He served in the US House of Representatives, as Washington's envoy to China and as chief of the Central Intelligence Agency before being elected Ronald Reagan's vice president.
Eight years later, as he accepted the Republican Party's nomination for president in 1988, Bush pleaded for a "kinder, and gentler nation."
He went on to easily defeat Democrat Michael Dukakis that November.
Bush was a foreign policy pragmatist who led the United States through the turbulent but largely peaceful end of the Cold War and the fall of the Soviet Union, which culminated in 1991 with its break-up.
Bush declared a "new world order" in 1990 and drove Iraq from Kuwait in a matter of weeks with a lightning air and ground assault – and the backing of a coalition of 32 nations.
Despite his success on the international stage, he was denied a second term over a weak economy, losing the 1992 election to upstart Democrat Bill Clinton, a little-known governor from Arkansas.
He later would see his son George occupy the Oval Office for eight years – they are only the second father-son duo in American presidential history, after John and John Quincy Adams.