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William H.T. Bush: 1938-2018

William H. T. "Bucky" Bush, the chairman of Saint Louis University's Board of Trustees from 1985 to 1992 and a noted business and civic leader, died Tuesday, Feb. 27. He was 79.


William H.T. "Bucky" Bush, the younger brother of former President George H.W. Bush and uncle of President George W. Bush, served as the chairman of SLU's Board of Trustees from 1985 to 1992.

In sharing the sad news of his passing with the President’s Advisory Council Wednesday morning, SLU President Fred P. Pestello, Ph.D., told the group that he and his wife Fran met with Mr. Bush only a few days ago during a trip to Florida to meet with benefactors of the University.  

“He told us that his service on and his chairing of this (Saint Louis University) Board, was the most important and meaningful service experience in his life,” Pestello said. “I have really valued the opportunity to get to know him,” Pestello said of the former Board chair. Please keep Mr. Bush and his family in your prayers.”

Dean Emerita Ellen Harshman, Ph.D., chair of SLU’s Bicentennial Committee, said Bush was deeply interested in the University’s 200-year-milestone.

“In keeping with his commitment to SLU, Mr. Bush joined the Bicentennial Advisory Council,” Harshman said.  “He was a great supporter of the University and wanted to be sure to help us celebrate this anniversary. His wisdom and guidance were valuable contributions to our bicentennial planning.”

At the 2009 commencement, Bush was awarded an honorary doctor of law degree from the University in recognition of his profound commitment to the community, his leadership in the economic development of the St. Louis region and his indispensable service to Saint Louis University.

Following is the text of the citation from the May 16, 2009 ceremony:

Through business, service and politics, William H.T. “Bucky” Bush has used his incredible influence to help the St. Louis region grow and prosper. His countless contributions to the community carry on the illustrious legacy of one of the country’s leading families. 

As co-founder and chairman of Bush O’Donnell Capital Partners LLC, he has nurtured some of the region’s most prominent businesses at the very moment they needed support to flourish. Under his leadership for the past 23 years, the holding company has invested in a wide range of publicly and privately owned businesses, including St. Louis’ own Build-A-Bear Workshop. In fact, the financial support and entrepreneurial guidance of Bush and his firm has extended far beyond the region to help grow companies around the world. 

A 1960 Yale graduate, Bucky Bush had a long and successful career in the banking industry. Before establishing Bush O’Donnell Capital Partners, he served as president and chief executive officer of Boatman’s National Bank of St. Louis from 1978 to 1986. After graduating from Yale, Mr. Bush began his career with the Hartford National Bank and Trust Co. in Connecticut where he held several management positions in the commercial and international banking divisions.  

Mr. Bush’s storied business acumen has led top companies from across the country to seek his unique insight and guidance. He currently serves on the boards of Wellpoint Inc. in Indianapolis, the Lord Abbett Family of Mutual Funds in New York and Maritz Inc. of St. Louis. He also brings his remarkable vision to the broader business community as a valued member of the board of the Regional Business Council of St. Louis.  

Noted for his generous heart and commitment to others, Bucky Bush has lent his time and talent to many of St. Louis’ most important community organizations. Presently, he serves on the boards of the Missouri Botanical Garden, the Backstoppers, STL Crime Commission, the Variety Club of St. Louis and the Municipal Opera Association (The Muny). His service to these organizations includes terms as president or chairman of their boards. In addition, he was commissioner of the St. Louis Area Boy Scouts from 1986 to 1988. 

But Bush hasn’t limited his sphere of influence to the business world. Brother of former U.S. President George H.W. Bush and the uncle of former U.S. President George W. Bush, he has carried on his family’s successful political tradition by playing a prominent role in state and national politics.   

At Saint Louis University, Bucky Bush will be forever woven into the fabric of the institution. His unwavering leadership and graceful service guided SLU during one of the most important periods in our history. As chairman of SLU’s Board of Trustees from 1985 to 1992, Bucky Bush helped bring stability during a period of change and offered guidance during a time of revitalization. 

At the beginning of his term, he was integral to the efforts of former President Thomas R. Fitzgerald, S.J., in steering the University back onto solid financial ground. And after Father Fitzgerald announced his retirement, Bucky Bush was instrumental in the hiring of current SLU President Lawrence Biondi, S.J., in 1987. The remainder of Bucky Bush’s tenure was filled with moments that put the University on the path to greatness, including the successful completion of SLU’s first $100 million fundraising campaign, the establishment of the prestigious Presidential Scholar program as well as the expansion and beautification of SLU’s campus.  

In recognition of his profound commitment to the community, his leadership in the economic development of the St. Louis region and his indispensable service to Saint Louis University, I recommend that the degree of doctor of law, honoris causa, be conferred upon William H.T. “Bucky” Bush.

Funeral arrangements have not been announced at this time.