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Richard Merritt Bushby

Iowa City

Richard Merritt Bushby, 69, died peacefully at his home in Iowa City on Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2019, after a courageous fight against cancer.
Richard is survived by his wife, Sarah Neary, and their beloved rescue dog, Faye; his first wife, Sharon Madden; their two children, Chris and Lisa Bushby; granddaughter, Josie Bushby; siblings, Donna (Neal) Becker, Daniel (Linda) Bushby, Al (Kim) Bushby, Dennis (Deby) Bushby and Don Bushby.
Richard is preceded in death by his sister, Doris Jackinowski; and parents, Merritt Bushby and Marie Gagne Bushby.
Richard was born on Nov. 8, 1949, in Joliet, Ill. He was raised by his grandmother, Esther Bushby, from infancy to age 6 on her farm just outside of Joliet. It was Esther who taught Richard to love the earth, to savor the taste of fresh vegetables and fruits from her garden and to appreciate frugality. She influenced his decision to attend college at Southern Illinois State and pursue a graduate degree in education. He was a special education teacher for many years, retiring from Washington High School in Washington, Iowa, after 20 years of service in 2012. He moved to Iowa City in 2015 to live with Sarah in a beautiful home surrounded by nature. A lifelong lover of the outdoors, Richard spent hours walking in the woods with his dog, building his knowledge of tree, bird and plant species. He loved to forage for wild edible greens and mushrooms and would scour the area for local sources of fruit and wood.
Richard was passionate about music. He played guitar and taught his students songs to sing at the local nursing home in Washington. He wrote and performed songs on local stages and front porches. Recently, he has been a central figure in the Iowa City Community Singing Group, a local example of a worldwide effort to use singing and music to build community. He also became a regular at the Johnson County Senior Center's Monday "Singing Alive" group. In 2016, he joined the Oakdale Prison Choir, directed by Dr. Mary Cohen and took voice lessons through the University of Iowa. His passion for music and sharing song was infectious and inspiring to all who knew him.
Richard had great reverence for nature and the earth. He spent many summers camping with his children in the state parks of Wisconsin. He was an avid gardener and loved attracting birds, bees and butterflies to his yard. He was a patient observer of the seasons and captured the beauty of nature in photographs. Richard was deeply concerned about environmental degradation and the impact of climate change on our planet.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the following local organizations: Iowa City Climate Advocates at iowa-city-climate-advocates.org and 100Grannies at 100grannies.org. If a donation is not possible, please consider getting involved in these organizations. One of the last things Richard said was "People forget they have a voice (to speak), and feet (to act) and then it's too late."
The family would like to thank our wonderful friends at Oaknoll Retirement Community who delivered gold-standard care to Richard in his final days.
A celebration of Richard's life will be held at a later date. Service information will be available in a few days at www.lensingfuneral.com.
Online condolences may be made at www.lensingfuneral.com.
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