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Donor to WNCC was a gentle man and a math whiz

by Merrie Leininger

People who knew him say he was a gentleman who loved to learn.

When Robert A. Bush died last spring, and with no family to speak of, he left most of his estate to the place that kept him company in his last year, the Douglas campus of Western Nevada Community College.

Charles and Vicki Hone, long-time friends and neighbors of Bush, reminisced about him before they presented a check for $176,000 to the deans of the branch campus Wednesday morning.

Charlie Hone, who now runs the Hone ranch, grew up next door to Bush on Mottsville Lane from the time he was 12 years old and Bush moved to Carson Valley from California with his second wife.

“For a while he was our only neighbor. He lived about a quarter of a mile away. I worked for him as a kid and helped on the ranch,” Charlie Hone said.

Charlie Hone said 69-year-old Bush kept busy by keeping his fingers in a lot of pies.

“He was an interesting old guy. He had a diverse range of interests, the stock market, he collected guns – when he could, he hunted and did outdoor activities,” he said.

Charlie Hone said Bush was a retired insurance agent and had raised cattle and pheasant on his ranch. He also was a member of Coventry Cross Episcopal Church in Minden.

Shep Curtis, the priest at Coventry Cross, said Bush left a small donation to the church’s building fund.

“He was a very warm and generous man,” Curtis said of Bush, who attended devotion and church functions as often as he physically could.

He also loved mathematics and he started taking math and computer classes at Carson City in 1994.

Vicki Hone said up until the day Bush died, he was taking classes and working on math problems in his home.

“There were posters of math equations on his walls and formulas on papers all over his table. I think he just did it to keep his mind active,” she said.

Her husband said Bush loved to learn and saved all his textbooks instead of selling them back to the bookstore when the class was over.

“He had health problems, so it was the only thing he could do for entertainment,” he said.

n Instructions. Charlie Hone said he often visited Bush just to spend some time with a lonely old man and talk, but a couple of months before he died, Bush called him to come over for a more serious visit.

That is when he asked Hone to be the executor of his estate. He gave very clear instructions what he wanted done with his money.

He designated $176,000 to the WNCC Douglas campus, half to be spent for building and equipment, and half for a $3,000 scholarship each year for a mathematics, chemistry or nursing student. It is the largest single cash gift to the campus.

Charlie Hone said it was also pretty important to Bush that the Hones make an attempt to locate the children of his estranged daughter.

They did through the Internet, and each granddaughter received $10,000 from his estate.

Dean of Institutional Advancement Helaine Jesse said she was touched the college had affected Bush so much that he would give most of his estate to it.

She said usually scholarships are $500 a semester, and the $1,500 scholarship will pay for much more than classes and books.

“This is so generous. I don’t think he knew what an effect this would have,” Jesse said. “This is a nice Thanksgiving.”

n Mathematician. Coordinator of the Academic Skills Center at the Carson City college, Kim Ashley, said he remembered Bush from when he was taking the brush-up math classes at the center about four years ago.

Ashley said Bush struck him because he was such an intent student.

“He was really dedicated; he was there a lot. He did really well. He was one of few students who went through every course we had in math,” Ashley said. “He was very good. He became so good, students would come over to talk to him so he would help them out. He knew the computers well and knew some short cuts that he taught the students.”

Bush, who Ashley called “a gentleman, very polite,” began to tutor other students once he finished the brush-up courses and began regular lecture classes.

“He was probably the most dedicated student I ever had,” Ashley said. “He was a very pleasant person.”

n Scholarship. Information about the scholarship is now available. The first scholarship will be awarded fall 1999. Call the WNCC scholarship office at 887-3078 for information.

Jesse said a scholarship committee might be formed to pick the recipient because the amount is so large.

“We want to make sure the person we pick will stay in school for the whole year,” she said.

The Record-Courier E-mail: rc@tahoe.com

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