Former secretary of State: Bush 'kept his spirit' right until the 'very end'

Former secretary of State: Bush 'kept his spirit' right until the 'very end'
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Former Secretary of State James Baker said Sunday that former President George H.W. Bush maintained his spirit and sense of humor right up until his death.

Baker, who served as secretary of State under the 41st president, said on ABC's "This Week" that Bush's health began to deteriorate rapidly after he returned from the family's summer home in Maine.

"He kept his spirit and he kept his sense of humor right until the very end,"  Baker said. "But his passing... was very gentle and very peaceful."

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Baker said Bush was surrounded by family, former staff members and doctors at his home in Houston when he died. He died Friday at age 94.

The former secretary of State said Bush frequently surprised his friends by fighting back from serious illnesses in his old age, which was made more difficult by a form of Parkinson's he had suffered from for years.

"It never really affected his spirit," Baker said on CNN's "State of the Union."

"In fact, he said after Barbara died that he wasn’t ready to go," he added, referencing the death of the former first lady earlier this year. "He used to kid about wanting to be 100."

Baker went on to praise Bush's accomplishments in the White House, particularly his handling of the end of the Cold War and other foreign policy achievements.

"He is going to be and was a very consequential one-term president, and I would argue far and away the best one-term president we’ve ever had," Baker said.

Bush, a former vice president and CIA director who served in the military during World War II, will lie in state in the Capitol Rotunda from late Monday through Wednesday morning.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpProsecutors investigating Trump inaugural fund, pro-Trump super PAC for possible illegal foreign donations: NY Times George Conway: Why take Trump's word over prosecutors' if he 'lies about virtually everything' Federal judge says lawsuit over Trump travel ban waivers will proceed MORE declared a national day of mourning for Wednesday, when a service will be held for Bush at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C.