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Former Baseball Coach Dick Busch Dies

Jan. 19, 2007

SPOKANE, Wash. - Richard A. (Dick) Bush, who served as Gonzaga University's baseball coach from 1949-67 and taught civil engineering at the University from 1946-82, passed away Thursday in Spokane.

Visitation will be Tuesday from noon-5 p.m. at Hennessey/Smith Funeral Homes and Crematory, 2203 N. Division. Vigil services will be held Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. at St. Thomas More Parish, 505 W. St. Thomas More Way. A Mass of Christian Burial will celebrate his life on Wednesday at 11 a.m. at St. Thomas More Parish, officiated by his nephew Fr. Gary Lombardi from Petaluma, Calif. In lieu of flowers memorial contributions may be made to the building fund for St. Thomas More Parish, 505 W. St. Thomas More Rd, Spokane, Wash., 99208.

Gonzaga joined the Big Sky Conference in 1964 and Busch was named the conference Coach of the Year in 1965 after leading the Bulldogs to its first Big Sky title with a 19-10 overall record and 9-3 conference slate. The Bulldogs had finished tied for second in their inaugural season in the conference.

Busch helped build four of the baseball field at Gonzaga Busch built four baseball fields on campus - one where the Quad is, just south of the Administration Building; one on the site where the Foley Center now sits, south of Martin Centre, and a third where Mulligan Field resides, south of the COG.

He was the master mind behind Pecarovich Field (later renamed August/ART Stadium and Pecarovich Field following renovation project funded in part by the late Joey August and the Athletic Round Table), but Busch never got to coach a game there as he returned to the classroom exclusively in 1967, a year before play began there. He was inducted into the Gonzaga Athletic Hall of Fame in 1989 and received the Bulldog Club Service Award in 1999.

"This new stadium will be great for the program," Busch said after then head coach Steve Hertz had showed him around the building site. "But I still miss the old field."

Gonzaga's latest baseball facility - Patterson Baseball Complex and Washington Trust Field - is slated to open this season and is located on the south end of campus just over the right field fence from where August/ART Stadium stood.

"Dick Busch was a friend and a colleague," Hertz said. "He loved baseball and was a true Zag. Although I never played for him, it was a pleasure to be both a player and a coach and wear the uniform for the program he helped shape. We shared many good conversations about Gonzaga baseball and he was a frequent visitor to the field. He not only loved Bulldog baseball, he loved Gonzaga University."

Current athletic director Mike Roth also spoke highly of Busch.

"Dick was our honoree at the Bulldog Club Golf Tournament in 1999 and was our Bulldog Club Service Award recipient, honors he richly deserved," Roth said. "He served Gonzaga well both athletically and academically for 36 years. He is the type of coach and the type of person we should all strive to emulate. He helped lay the foundation for what we aspire to achieve in the field of competition and in the classroom. Our heartfelt sympathies go out to his wife Lee and the entire family."

Dick was born into a large family of eight brothers and sisters to Pete and Julia Busch in Uniontown, Wash., on Sept. 20, 1920. He graduated from West Valley High School in Spokane where he met his wife Lee, his life-long bride of 65 years. Following graduation he attended Washington State University and received a degree in civil engineering. He also attended Harvard University for graduate work and received a master's degree from the University of Oklahoma. Dick served as a captain with the Army Corp of Engineers during World War II, serving the Pacific.

Soon after the end of the war, Dick returned to Spokane and took a teaching position at Gonzaga University. Busch was also instrumental in starting a chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers at Gonzaga, which has assisted in bringing together all undergraduate civil engineering students at engineering schools throughout the Northwest to provide insights into their professional tenure. He also worked for the U.S. Bureau of Mines following his retirement from Gonzaga.Dick was a member of the Spokane Country Club and St Thomas More Parish. Dick received the Spokane Chapter of the American Civil Engineers "Engineer of the Year" Award in 1973.

In addition to his wife Lee, he is survived by daughters Ricki (Dennis) Cox and Cathy (Bob) Comfort, and sons Mike (Marguerite) Busch and Chris (Mary) Busch. He is also survived by two brothers, Tom and Bob Busch. His family includes 16 grandchildren and 28 great-grandchildren.