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Sadder News: Hal Bush (DoctorB) passes away.


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Hal Bush was the poster @DoctorB.  Sadly, he passed away this week from an injury that occurred earlier this year.

Our thoughts are with the Bush family.


Harold K. Bush, who taught English literature at St. Louis University and wrote books about Mark Twain and others, died Wednesday (Aug. 18, 2021) at his home in Soulard. He was 64. 

After a fall down basement steps in January, Bush had been hospitalized or in skilled nursing care for a traumatic brain injury. He was taken home a few days before he died.

A tenured professor and former Fulbright scholar, Bush was hired by SLU in 1998, where his research largely focused on 19th-century American writers and culture. Best known for his study of Twain, Bush was the author of "Mark Twain and the Spiritual Crisis of His Age." In addition to other books, he was co-editor of "The Letters of Mark Twain and Joseph Hopkins Twichell" and editor of "Lincoln in His Own Time."


But he may have been better known in the classroom, receiving in 2016 the Helen I. Mandeville Award, a high honor for excellence in undergraduate teaching in the humanities.


"He was beloved by the students," Toby Benis, chair of SLU's English Department, said Thursday. "He really knew how to connect with them."


Always known as "Hal," he and his wife had parties at the end of every semester, and friends, colleagues and students would "sit around and sing songs from the 1960s," Benis said. 

Last fall, Bush, who played guitar, performed protest songs at a university teach-in in support of Black Lives Matter, Benis said. 


Besides drawing students to a class on 1960s literature (and Bob Dylan music), Bush taught American literature as an expression of spirituality, she said. "He looked at it through a Christian lens."

A friend, Gary Leibovich, said by email that Bush "had a rare but well-balanced combination of intelligence, hospitality and fan loyalty. Intelligence that I saw in his writings and through discussions he lead. Hospitality that I saw in the the many get-togethers he and his wife, Hiroko, hosted in their home. And fan loyalty that I saw in his love and knowledge of Billikens basketball and Cardinals baseball."

Leibovich was a former pastor at New City Fellowship of St. Louis, where the Bushes were members. The senior pastor, the Rev. Barry Henning, said of Bush: "His humor, his love of life, his cultural insight and his faithful, humble love for his wife, his university students and for children from trauma backgrounds in the St. Louis area, made Hal an inspiration to anyone who had the good fortune of knowing him." 


The Bushes often traveled, including to Japan, where Hiroko was born. In 2017, the scholar published a novel, "The Hemingway Files," under the name H.K. Bush. Set in Japan, it involved an English professor seeking clues to a mystery involving author Ernest Hemingway.

Bush was born in 1956 in Indianapolis, the son of Harold Bush Sr. and Mary Lyon. He earned his doctorate in philosophy from Indiana University. 


Married for 34 years to Hiroko Hara Bush, their only son, Daniel, died in 1999. Besides his wife, Bush is survived by another son, Joseph Puglisi, three sisters and one brother, and several nieces and nephews. A memorial service is expected to be held in November. 



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So sad and shocked to hear this news.  Hal was an awesome guy.  So smart, so knowledgeable and a great sense of humor.  I really enjoyed the games we watched together.  I will think about him every game I go to.  Peace Hal, the world is a better place for having you as a part of it.

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Years ago when I had 2 tickets so I could take a friend to spread Billiken mania. I put one up on this board & he claimed it.  We enjoyed the game & each other.  He invited me to a pickup game at a grade school gym in U City where he lived - I played a few times but he didn’t renew the gym the following year.  By that time we were friends & he had 1st dibs on my extra ticket when available.  He complained that there were no ticket perks for the faculty in the form of seating choices or pricing.  I attended his book signing program for the Hemingway opus & bought one - good read & I have since passed it on.  I always ran into him while doing half time laps around the concourse.  I’ll miss him. 😟🏀🙏

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I had to break the news to my brother, who hadn't heard yet. He had Dr. Bush for 6 classes and was his TA in grad school. He also worked with him on his book "Continuing Bonds with the Dead". Not that I was particularly involved in my brother's grad school work, but I never made the connection that this was DoctorB. My wife took one of his classes, too. Both of them had great things to say about him.

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