Jenna Bush Hager is mourning the loss of her father-in-law, John H. Hager. John, Virginia's former lieutenant governor and the father of Bush's husband, Henry Hager, died Sunday at the age of 83. A cause of death has not been revealed.
"We lost my father-in-law, John Hager, Sunday morning," the Today show host shared early Monday morning. "He was a giant of a man—although, I never saw him stand. He lived with polio—paralyzed from the waist down—in a wheel chair, for forty five years. Despite it all he lived life to the fullest—and was compassionate, curious and kind. And boy, will we miss him but as Poppy said: he is in a better place—'in heaven, out of his wheel-chair and running.'"
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News of her father-in-law's passing was met with an overwhelming amount of support from Bush's followers, many sending her their condolences. "I am so sorry for your loss Jenna! Sending u so much healing love your way," one person wrote. Somebody else commented that their "heart aches for you all." A third person wrote, "may you find comfort in his memories!"
John is the father of Hager's husband, with whom she shares three children – Margaret, Poppy Louise, and Henry Harold. Although Hager and Henry met through a mutual friend, their lives already had close ties. While Hager is the daughter of former President George H.W. Bush, Henry's own father had his ties to politics.
According to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, John, a former tobacco executive, became lieutenant governor from 1998 to 2002. In 2001, he had sought the Republican nomination for governor, though he lost to Attorney General Mark Earley, who was defeated in the general election by Democrat Mark Warner. He went on to become the top state security assistant to Warner after the Sept. 11 terror attacks and also served as an assistant secretary in the U.S. Department of Education under President George W. Bush. John also served as chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia.
Given his long history in politics, it comes as little surprise that a number of political figures are reacting to his passing. In a statement, Gov. Ralph Northam remembered him as a man who "held fast to his principles, and he knew when to reach across the aisle to compromise."