John "Jack" Hilton Busch

June 15, 2015

John “Jack” Hilton Busch (BS Civ Egr '51) of Grand Rapids, Mich., passed away on June 2. He was 87.

Born Oct. 8, 1927, in East Grand Rapids, Mich., to the late George and Elizabeth Krause Busch. He graduated from East Grand Rapids High School.

Busch enlisted in the U.S. Navy after graduating from high school, serving as a first petty officer on the U.S.S. Helena in the Pacific Theater of World War II.

Following his military service, he earned a bachelor's degree in civil engineering from Michigan State University in 1951 and later earned an MBA from the University of Chicago.

Busch began his structural engineering career with Haven-Busch Company, Inc., before moving on to his own company, Busch Industries, Inc., where he worked on a multitude of domestic and international projects, including the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. A longtime American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC) board member and the board chair from 1983 through 1985, he enjoyed his work immensely and retired only a few months before his passing.

Past AISC President Lou Gurthet, who served as Busch’s vice president at Haven-Busch Company, recalls Busch’s love of AISC and the structural steel industry: “Jack’s dedication inspired my active participation in AISC and to becoming president of the organization.”

He was also a member of several professional and community organizations. Busch was passionate about the arts and supported various local, national and international artists, and was involved in bringing the sculpture La Grande Vitesse, by Alexander Calder, to his hometown of Grand Rapids. He was also an avid collector of Western American art and was a member of and contributor to the Charlie Russell Riders Foundation.

Busch is a past recipient of the MSU College of Engineering's highest alumni honor: The Claud R. Erickson Distinguished Alumni Award. Busch received the award in 1986. The Erickson Distinguished Alumni Award was first presented in June 1982 and is given annually to a College of Engineering graduate with a minimum of 15 years’ professional experience who has attained the highest level of professional accomplishment; provided distinguished and meritorious service to the College of Engineering and the engineering profession; and engaged in voluntary service at the local, state, national, and/or international level.

Busch is survived by sons Mike, James and Shane, grandsons John Michael Busch and James Busch, Jr. and granddaughter Katherine Busch. He was preceded in death by his wife, Catherine Christie Busch.

A mass of Christian burial was celebrated June 5 at at St. Thomas the Apostle Church, 1449 Wilcox Park Dr. S.E., Grand Rapids. Memorial donations may be made to the Michigan State University's College of Engineering or the Grand Rapids Art Museum.

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