Dave Bush, a physicist and a Motorola engineer who worked in the corporate research department Applied Technology for 27 years, died Monday, September 24th in Hoffman Estates at the St. Alexius Medical Center. He was 84.
Retired in 1998, he always wanted a boat and in 2000 bought the sloop he named Joint Venture, which he sailed out of Monroe Harbor in Chicago. In 2005, he began racing in the Lake Michigan Singlehanded Society Double and Q Races, and in 2009 raced the inaugural doublehanded section of the Chicago Race to Mackinac with his son, Mike. He completed seven more Mac races in the Cruising Section and earned a flag with a third-place finish in 2012. He really loved being out on the water with his boys, and those doublehanded races were among his favorite times.
Born Harry David Bush on May 16, 1934, in Dennison, Ohio, to Harry Oswald Bush (a minister at the Uhrichsville First Presbyterian Church) and Eva Ogilvie, he was nine years younger than his sister, Gloria Jane. Curious and precocious, and interested in everything, he skipped a grade in grade school, which he sometimes lamented due to his resulting smaller size than his peers, especially in high school. A picture of him playing bass drum in the marching band is hilarious. His curiosity was infectious: Uhrichsville was in a valley and needed a second train engine to haul the daily trains up the hill, and he convinced an engineer to let him ride the engine to the top and back, and probably to run the machine.
His father died suddenly at age 59 when Dave was 14, and he and his mother convalesced in Miami, where he attended Miami Jackson High school for a semester, joining the marching band for a performance in the Orange Bowl and a trip to Cuba. His senior year he placed first in physics and chemistry competitions in Uhrichsville High School and in Tuscarawas County, and in the top three in Ohio. He attended college at Wooster, a small Presbyterian college in Ohio. One summer he traveled to Oregon (they drove out in a friend’s hearse!) and spent the season working in the restaurant at Timberline Lodge on Mt. Hood. There he climbed to the summit one night to watch the sunrise. His mother Eva got a job at Wooster as a house mother in the women’s dormitory. He graduated with a BA degree in Physics in 1956.
His first engineering job was at Union Carbide in Parma, Ohio, in their research department. He rode a 1947 Harley Davidson, wore an Eisenhower jacket and got his pilot’s license flying Piper Cubs, which they would hand start. He joined the bowling team, where he met a beautiful Irish redhead, Margaret Carroll, who became his wife on October 18, 1958. Their two boys were born in the next few years, David Philip on December 15, 1959, and Donald Michael, on July 28, 1962. Some buddies at work had a band and needed a string bass player, so he borrowed a bass, practiced for a few weeks and played on their album, which was produced on 78 RPM records. He got his ham radio license and had a group that did radio broadcasts.
Dave and Marge moved their mobile home to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, in 1963 when he got a job at Collins Radio Company and built a house that they moved into on November 21, 1964 (Marge’s birthday). He was able to repair everything in the house (Marge “complained” that she never got any new appliances because he kept fixing them) and rebuilt his car engines and transmissions. He built storm windows and a small stoop off the back door. They grew corn, cantaloupe and rhubarb. He set up a low frequency radio antenna and exchanged Morse code messages every Sunday with Hams back in Ohio. He worked in materials science, building integrated circuits and electronic boards. He made some Teflon-coated screens that would cover air holes in Collins radios used in the early NASA space program. In his thirties, he took up SCUBA diving, becoming an instructor, and got a small boat that he taught his sons to sail on Lake McBride. On a vacation to Pelican Lake in Minnesota, he borrowed the resort owner’s sailboat in the morning and sailed it across the lake, but the wind died and he had to be towed back in the late afternoon, none the worse for wear except for his sunburned feet and empty stomach. He liked caving and explored caves around Iowa.
Collins Radio had cutbacks due to reduced military spending, and Dave then got a job at Motorola in Schaumburg, Illinois. The house in Cedar Rapids wasn’t sold for 22 months, so he commuted back every two weeks to see the family and finally in December 1972 they moved to Palatine. During this split time, his mother who had retired to Florida became gravely ill Thanksgiving week in 1971. At O’Hare desperately trying to get a flight during peak travel time, he finally got on a plane, but a flight attendant came on to inform him they needed his seat. Normally a calm man, he stood up and started loudly telling her what he thought of that as she backed down the aisle, and when he turned back to his seat the entire plane applauded! He made it in time to see his mom.
In Applied Technology, he started their Hybrid Lab, and later as a Principal Staff Engineer, was the go-to guy for the problems other engineers couldn’t solve. It’s not a stretch to say he was usually the smartest guy in the room. He worked on all of it: hardware, mechanical, processes, software, testing, circuits, radios, everything they had. He was inducted into SABA (for the top 2% of Motorola engineers) and had eight patents granted from 1962 until 2016, plus two in Canada and one in Germany. Many of his projects required clearances so he couldn’t talk about them, but one of his sons, Phil, worked in that lab for five years and got to see how great he was there.
Dave wanted to know how everything worked. He played Scott Joplin four-handed with his son, Phil. He was unbeatable on a Ham radio fox hunt. He took up distance running when his boys ran in high school and even won a few races in his age group. He was a skilled woodworker, building cabinets and display cases for Marge’s needlework shop. He loved researching his family history, and he and Marge had found over 4900 people during their ancestral searches. He was very proud that both of his sons had Master’s Degrees. Excellent at book learning, he would always be reading about some science topic or historical literature. Need to repair your car transmission, bake a soufflé, build a tongue and groove joint? He had usually done it but had always read about it. In any case, he could explain it to you. He would always surprise with some historical fact: “They used more gunpowder building the transcontinental railroad than both sides did in the Civil War. And they built it during the Civil War.” Once he read a thick chemistry textbook that started with water molecules and carbon dioxide, and worked all through chemistry to DNA, just to understand how that all worked. Feynman was a favorite.
He never had a bad word to say about anyone.
Dave was proceeded in death by his parents Harry Oswald and Eva (Ogilvie) Bush, sister Gloria Jane Bouman, parents-in-law Donald Francis and Sally (Farrell) Carroll, brothers-in-law Bob Bouman, Donald Francis Carroll Jr., and Patrick Vincent Carroll.
He leaves behind his wife of 59 years, Marge (married October 18, 1958), and his two sons, Phil and Mike (Jayne); grandchildren Sean (Shawna), Shannon (Jeff), Rachel, Danny and Ryan; great-grandchildren Lilly and Ella; brother-in-law Charles Carroll (Lynda); nieces and nephews Bobbie Andrs (Rick), Becky Corridan (JC), Fred David Bouman (Kathy), [named after him], Chris Carroll and Kim Carroll.
He is truly, and absolutely, irreplaceable.