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Local philanthropist leaves behind legacy

Carol Bush Family
To honor Carol, the court at the Kress Events Center was named “Carol’s Court” in 2017. Submitted photo

By Rich Palzewic

Contributing Writer

GREEN BAY – Perhaps best known for her work in creating opportunities for Green Bay area youth and women for more than 60 years, Carol Bush passed away this month at the age of 96.

Bush was born in 1926 in Milwaukee and moved with her family to Green Bay in 1942.

She attended Green Bay East High School and later graduated from Beloit College in 1948 with a degree in English.

“Carol had a tremendous impact on the youth in this area,” University of Wisconsin-Green Bay women’s basketball coach Kevin Borseth said. “Carol and her (late) husband Bob not only supported Green Bay athletics, but they supported the arts, healthcare and higher education. The community lost a friend and supporter. The Bushes went above and beyond compared to what most people do – they touched a lot of lives.”

When Borseth was hired in 1998 to lead the women’s program, he said Bush was the first person to call him.

“I’ve told this story before, but honestly, I didn’t know who Carol was back then – I quickly got to know her,” he said. “She was an unbelievable supporter of our program. She literally put her arm around us and helped mentor us. Bob and Carol were both all in – they were two phenomenal people who treated us well.”

Borseth said he could always count on the Bushes to show up to as many games as possible – both home and away.

“When they were a bit younger, they came to home games, away games – they were big fans,” he said.

Borseth said the Bushes were also a big part of the girls’ lives on the team.

“They invited us over to their house plenty of times over the years,” he said. “Carol had a great sense about her – we’d do artwork, play games with Oreo cookies or shoot marshmallows. We’d do some fun things – both in the summer or visit with the family. It was probably a couple of times a year.”

To honor Carol, the court at the Kress Events Center was named “Carol’s Court” in 2017.

“She was certainly dedicated to the women’s basketball team at Green Bay,” Borseth said.

The women’s team honored Bush during its game against Robert Morris University on Jan. 22 at the Kress.

“It was pretty emotional,” Borseth said. “The Bush family was there and so were several alumni. Roses were laid around the Carol’s Court insignia – it was a fitting sendoff.”

Carol also led early efforts in Phoenix women’s basketball history to raise funds for scholarships.

In 1996, Bob chaired a critical task force for the “Commission on Athletics” which brought together business leaders in the community to do a deep dive into department finances and feasibility.

The report helped solidify the school’s Division I status.

Not only athletics

As Borseth said, Carol’s reach went far beyond athletics.

She was the first woman appointed to the YMCA Board of Directors and to the UW-Green Bay Phoenix Fund Board.

She was also the first woman president of the Curative Workshop, now Curative Connections.

The Bushes also supported St. Norbert College in De Pere by donating to establish the Carol and Robert Bush Art Center.

Other highlights for Carol included creating the Unity Hospice Development Council, the Cotton Club to support Heritage Hill, The Big Event for Little Kids to support Encompass and the Service League Parade of Homes to support children in Brown County.

She was a Girl Scout leader and participated in many organizations, including her PEO Chapter, the Dudley Birder Chorale, the Botanical Garden, Phoenix Fund Board, Union Congregational Church (where she served as a trustee), the Antiquarian Society, the Symphony Board and the Weidner Center for Performing Arts Advisory Board.

She also received a Key to the City of Green Bay, The Mayor’s Committee for Cleaner and Beautiful Green Bay Award for promotion with the Big Event for Little Kids, the St. Norbert College President’s Medal, UW-Green Bay Chancellor’s Award, United Way DeTocqueville Award, Unity Hospice Guardian Angel, YMCA Christian Leadership and the Seal of the City of Green Bay.

The Bushes married in 1950 and raised four children – Tracy, Terry, Thomas and Toni – in Green Bay and later welcomed 14 grandchildren and 19 great-grandchildren.

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