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Sept. 9, 2015
By Mark Hornickel • Photography by Justin Hayworth
An excerpt of this story appears in the fall 2015 Northwest Alumni Magazine. To view the Northwest Alumni Magazine in its entirety online, click here.
The importance of education was instilled in Dr. Robert “Bob” Bush ’57 and Dr. Betty Johnson Bush ’60 at a young age. With that understanding and the pride they share for Northwest, the couple recently made a deferred commitment in the form of a bequest that will fund their existing Johnson-Bush Scholarship and provide additional, unrestricted support for Northwest’s greatest needs.
Recipients of the Johnson-Bush Scholarship must be a full-time junior or senior student who demonstrates leadership, maintains a 2.85 grade-point average or higher, and is majoring in early childhood education, elementary education, middle school education or secondary education.
“It’s a love of the University, the experience we had there, the people and the students,” Bob said of the couple’s decision to give back to Northwest. “We lived in Maryville about 46 years total and worked at the University about 34 years. We have wonderful memories, and especially as we get older those memories become more valuable.”
The Johnson-Bush Scholarship also honors Betty’s mother, Lucile Agee Johnson ‘52, and her more than 30 years of teaching in rural communities of northwest Missouri. Lucile brought Betty to classes at Northwest while she was just a baby.
“She graduated from Northwest the hard way,” Betty said. “She needed the education because she needed to teach, but more importantly she wanted it. She wanted to model how important it was for my two brothers and me. We were deeply blessed by her services to districts in northwest Missouri and the surrounding area.”
Having grown up in northwest Missouri, the Bushes transferred to Northwest from what was then St. Joseph Junior College to complete their bachelor’s degrees. Both Bob and Betty continued their educations, earning master’s and doctorate degrees from the University of Missouri-Columbia and University of Missouri-Kansas City.
After several years with the St. Joseph School District and NASA, Bob was recruited to join Northwest’s staff in 1975 by then-president Dr. Robert Foster. He went on to provide the University with 34 years of service in various roles and helped establish numerous programs and services in the community, including Northwest’s renowned alternative energy program, before retiring in 2006. As a member of the Alumni Association, he helped organize alumni trips, social gatherings and fundraising events.
“Northwest gave us a great opportunity and we didn't realize at the time what a major decision it was in our lives and the benefits that it brought to us,” Bob said.
Betty joined the Northwest faculty in 1983, beginning as a reading instructor at Horace Mann Laboratory School and eventually advancing to the rank of professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction. She also served as the department’s chair and retired in 2002.
“I just loved every minute of it,” Betty said. “When I had the opportunity to teach an adult class it was exactly what I was looking for. I spent several years watching teachers in training transition from inexperienced students moving through the stages of development to become competent, effective, outstanding teachers.”
In 2014, the Northwest Alumni Association honored the Bushes with Faculty Emeritus Awards for their impacts on countless Northwest students.
“I think of all the wonderful projects that we were a part of at Northwest, and it was a very rewarding experience that we still reflect on today. It gives us a lot of pleasure and enjoyment as we grow older,” Bob said.
The couple now resides in West Des Moines, Iowa, but maintain their pride in Northwest and interest in projects taking place in the Maryville community such as the recently completed Fourth Street Improvement Project and the development of the Watson 9 youth golf course at Mozingo Lake Recreation Park.
“Maryville is out on the cutting edge with its very progressive leadership of the city and the leadership at the University,” Bob said. “We’re proud to say that we’re from Maryville, Missouri, and Northwest Missouri State University.”
Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager
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Northwest Missouri State University
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