MY WASHINGTON — Winter 2003


A Shared Life

The Bushes embody the past, present, and future of Washington University, and their dedication and enthusiasm have benefited generations of students.




Frank J. Bush, Jr., B.S.B.A. '30, and Florence A. Bush, Arts & Sciences '31, in the chemistry lab named for them in the new Arts & Sciences Laboratory Science Building. Editor's note: Frank Bush died on November 20, 2003. The Washington University community was deeply saddened by the loss of our great friend and colleague, and we present this profile to honor his memory.

For many alumni, the 50th college reunion marks the culmination of their relationship with their alma mater. For Frank and Florence Bush, it was a new beginning.

During his 50th Reunion in 1980, Frank Bush met David Blasingame, vice chancellor for Alumni and Development Programs, who was then director of development for the Olin School of Business. Their conversation rekindled Bush's interest in the School. "Frank called himself a born-again alumnus," says Blasingame. "He and Florence dedicated themselves to the success of the University and its students."

Julia Jane Stupp, M.B.A. '83, executive vice chair of the Alumni Board of Governors, says: "I had the good fortune to meet the Bushes more than 20 years ago, and I am tremendously grateful for their welcome, guidance, and friendship. Frank and Florence Bush hold the history, experience the present, and see the future of Washington University. They are leading examples of how a lifelong involvement with the University makes our community strong."

One of the people who inspired Frank Bush's renewed commitment to the University was Robert L. Virgil, former dean of the School of Business and University trustee. Virgil values the Bushes' friendship and support for the effort to put the Olin School of Business "on the map," as Bush describes it. Virgil says: "When I think of model alumni, Frank and Florence are the first who come to mind. They are always willing to listen. They have been very important to the life of the School."

Florence Bush takes some of the credit. "I had been a member of the Women's Society and a volunteer for the School of Art for many years," she says, "and I urged Frank to get active at the University, too. We are both so very proud of Washington University and what it has become."

Beginning in 1980, Frank Bush served on the Eliot Society Membership Committee for the Olin School's most successful membership effort up to that time, and in 1983, he was named to the Alumni Board of Governors as vice chairman for Planned Giving and joined the School of Business Alumni Association Executive Committee. He remained active on both boards for more than 15 years, in addition to chairing the Washington University Association, which sponsors the popular Travel Lecture series. He currently serves on the University's Endowed Scholarship Committee.

In 1986, Frank Bush received a Distinguished Alumni Award at Founders Day, and in 1998, the Olin School of Business honored him with the Dean's Medal. In 2001, the Bushes established life income gifts that will endow a scholarship at the Olin School of Business; a classroom and conference room in the Sam Fox Arts Center; and a chemistry lab in the new Arts & Sciences Laboratory Science Building.

Supporting Scholarships and Students

Frank Bush and Florence Austin both grew up in St. Louis and met at a school dance while she was still in high school. "I was interested in Westminster College," Frank recalls, "but my parents talked me into going to Washington University. I'm glad they did—I had a great time and made a lot of friends, and was manager of the football team for four years."

Following graduation, the Great Depression made jobs difficult to find. Bush sold oil burners for a couple of years, but he always wanted to be in business for himself. He found the right fit in the insurance industry. He began his career at Lawton-Byrne-Bruner, Inc., a property and casualty insurance firm (now part of Marsh & McLennan, Inc.) by working for two months without pay—a common practice at the time—and retired from the firm as vice president 49 years later. (He and Florence married in 1934.)

In 1980, the Bushes were among the founding sponsors of the Scholars in Business Program. Kellie Trivers, B.S.B.A. '84, who was the recipient of the Bushes' annual scholarship for two years, says: "We met at the business school's scholarship dinner, and they became mentors to me—they have been a very important part of my life. Frank and Florence are genuinely interested in students and their success, and that is why they are such wonderful role models. They are a great example of how the annual scholarship program can benefit donors and recipients alike—they stay involved because they are truly 'young at heart.'"

The Bushes enjoy meeting and working with people. At Washington University, their enthusiasm has benefited generations of students. Beyond their generous contributions of financial support and service, the Bushes have given unstintingly of themselves, participating in phonathons and class Reunion committees, and greeting prospective students at the April Welcome program. One year, they pitched in to help make salads for the Olin School's annual Thanksgiving dinner for students, faculty, staff, and friends.

A Sense of Satisfaction

For more than 20 years, Frank Bush has worked to advance the Olin School of Business. He remembers the School's first volunteer appreciation party, a small reception for about 20 guests, which has grown into the annual Dean's Holiday Reception for nearly 200 people.

Olin Dean Stuart Greenbaum says: "The Bushes have been extraordinarily supportive and helpful since the day I arrived. They are enthusiastic and engaged with the Olin School, and no words can describe how deeply I have appreciated their friendship."

Upon receiving the Dean's Medal in 1998, Frank Bush said: "There's a tradition and legacy at the business school that didn't exist when I graduated. I have a very, very fine sense of satisfaction that my contributions, in a small way, have helped the Olin School become one of the most prominent in the world."

Coming Back and Giving Back

In 2000, on the occasion of his 70th undergraduate Reunion, Washington University established the Frank J. Bush Reunion Leadership Award, which pays tribute to his inspiring enthusiasm and his exemplary dedication:

"This award is named in honor of Frank J. Bush, a member of the Class of 1930. Whenever called upon, Frank rolled up his sleeves and took on any job to enrich the Reunion experience for his classmates and others. "

For Frank and Florence Bush, they say they've also been enriched. When asked what motivated their activities at the University for so many years, they agree that "Washington University is such an exciting place—we wanted to see what would happen next. There is always so much to look forward to."

—Susan Wooleyhan Caine