RIPLEY - A scholar and a gentleman, we at Jackson County Newspapers bid a fond farewell to our friend, colleague and Renaissance Man (as he was known in the community) Michael E. "Jim" Bush. Our wordsmith may not be working at the newspaper anymore but he will continue to be a presence our community.
He was raised in Gilmer County and spent 35 years in the educational systems of Lewis and Jackson counties.
Anyone who knows Mr. Bush knows he has a passion for guitars as well as performing and writing. His artistic side covers a lot of ground. He has made dulcimers, sang and played in several genres of music, acted, wrote poetry and plays.
He stated that the desire to play the guitar was ignited in him as a teen.
Said Mr. Bush, "I started to play the guitar when I was 14 years old. When I was a college student at Glenville State I auditioned for Honey in the Rock (An outdoor drama depicting the tumultuous era of the Civil War). I happened to have my guitar with me even though I wanted an acting job. I didn't get the acting job, but I was hired as a guitar player."
It took several weeks of work for the guitarist to perfect his playing abilities, "We practiced for about six weeks and I learned. I was there for the next three years."
Collage wasn't just about performing. Mr. Bush majored in both English and theater. He then went on to attend Marshall University where he received a Master's degree in British literature and then went on to teach at Weston Junior High School.
Said Bush, "There were about forty or so students in my room. The floors were oil wood and my room was very dark. We only had one light bulb hanging in the room."
A new destination was on the horizon that brought the musician and teacher to Jackson County in 1967. This time he used his musical talents to start a choir at Ripley Junior High School.
"There wasn't a music program in the school at all, so I started a choir. We were called the Cat Gut Choir and we traveled around the county performing folk music. It was a lot of fun."
Afterwards, Bush moved into an available spot in the English department at Ripley High School. He finished his career as a teacher in 1999 due to health problems.
Bush came across a job he was interested in-journalism.
"The paper was something to do with my time. I was feeling frustrated and Mike Ruben had been a student of mine. I told Mike that I was going to quit my job and work for him. He said, "Come ahead."
According to Bush the two county papers were still a separate and were a bigger process and a longer process.
Page 2 of 2 - "We had computers but we had print out our stories and Kathy (Beegle) cut them in into columns waxed them and put them on a mock page then we sent them to Ravenswood. He continued, "Sometimes we didn't go home until 11 p.m. Working that close to people you knew who you could count on and who would be late with the big story. At the time it was Lois McCann. she was a wonderful lady, and a good writer," said Bush.
He finished, "Working for the paper has opened the community up for me and me to the community. I got involved in so many things, which I wouldn't have known about when I was teaching school. I'm not going to sit around and do nothing."