Marylanders mourn loss of Speaker Busch

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Image via House Speaker Michael Busch’s Facebook page.

By David Jahng and Natalie Jones
Capital News Service

ANNAPOLIS — Family, friends, and public officials gathered to say a final goodbye to former Maryland House Speaker Michael Busch, whose funeral Mass was celebrated Tuesday.

Prior to the service, a small crowd gathered as Busch—who had been lying in state since Monday—was escorted out of the State House for the last time by the Maryland State Police Honor Guard.

Except for bagpipes playing, it was silent as his wife and two daughters, along with other family, friends and his chief of staff, followed the casket.

The procession traveled around State Circle and moved to St. John Neumann Catholic Church in Annapolis, where hundreds packed into the pews to honor the speaker.

At the funeral, Busch’s two daughters shared stories of their father’s commitment to his family at home and in the legislature.

“My father was honorable, he was kind, he was fair and he cared for us with a passion,” Megan Busch, the speaker’s younger daughter, said.

“He was my teacher, my coach and my best buddy,” said Erin Busch, the speaker’s older daughter.

“I love you, Dad, and thank you for everything,” Erin said, her voice breaking.

Current and former legislators, as well as friends, praised Busch for his leadership and integrity.

“He wasn’t just speaker of the House, he was speaker of us all,” said D. Bruce Poole, past chairman of the Maryland Democratic Party and former delegate from Washington County.

“He was a magnificent leader, and he wore compassion on his sleeve,” said Gil Genn, former delegate from Montgomery County.

Genn served with Busch in the House of Delegates from 1987 to 1999 and also played softball with the speaker from time to time, he said.

Busch had an “open door policy unlike anything I’ve ever seen,” Del. Carl Anderton Jr. (R-Wicomico County) said.

Busch was not in the legislature to be a Democrat or Republican, he was there to represent all Marylanders, Anderton said.

Ray Leone, a former Maryland Parent Teacher Association president and candidate for the Anne Arundel County Board of Education, was a constituent in Busch’s district, and the two knew each other well enough to be on “hugging terms,” according to Leone, who recalled Busch wrapping him in big bear hugs.

“He had a sense about him, he went out of his way to make people feel comfortable,” Leone told Capital News Service.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan presented the Busch family with a state flag that was flown over the State House on April 7 and draped over the casket.

The family then watched the casket be placed into a hearse, before turning away in tears.

Busch died unexpectedly on April 7 after a bout with pneumonia, one day before the end of the 2019 legislative session.

His term as speaker of the House lasted 16 years, the longest in state history.

The speaker’s burial will be private, according to the John M. Taylor Funeral Home in Annapolis.

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