Bush, the oldest of six children of George H.W. Bush (1924-) and Dorothy Pierce Bush (1925-), was born on July 6, 1946, in New Haven Connecticut, when his father, a former World War II naval aviator, was a student at Yale University. He was raised in Texas, where the senior Bush was an executive in the oil industry, and attended high school at Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts. Bush went on to Yale, the alma mater of his father and grandfather, Prescott Bush (1985-1972), a banker and U.S. senator, and earned a degree in history in 1968.
That same year, with America fighting the Vietnam War (1954-75), Bush was accepted into the Texas Air National Guard. He trained to become a pilot and completed his active-duty service in 1970. In 1973, he entered Harvard Business School, and received an MBA in 1975. Bush then returned to Texas to work in the oil and gas industry and eventually started his own exploration company.
On November 5, 1977, he married Laura Welch (1946-), a librarian and school teacher. The couple had twin daughters, Jenna and Barbara, in 1981.
In 1978, Bush ran for the U.S. House of Representatives from Texas but lost to his Democratic opponent in the general election. Afterward, he returned to his oil business, which he sold in 1986. Bush moved to Washington, D.C., to work on his father’s successful 1988 presidential campaign, and the following year became an investor in the Texas Rangers baseball team (he sold his ownership stake in 1998 for $15 million).
In 1994, Bush defeated Democratic incumbent Ann Richards to become governor of Texas. He was re-elected four years later. In the summer of 1999, Bush announced his candidacy for president, and campaigned as a “compassionate conservative.”