The funeral procession for Michael Busch, speaker for the Md. House of Delegates. (Karl Ferron / Baltimore Sun video)
When the elementary school in the historically African-American community of Parole in Annapolis was at risk of being closed, Rhonda Pindell Charles knew just who to push to save the school: Michael Erin Busch.
Pindell Charles wrote Busch, her state delegate, nearly daily in a quest to keep open the last historically black school operating in Anne Arundel County.
"Our community was disrespected and appalled at the possible closing of our beloved school," she said.
Maryland’s Senate opened its floor session with tearful words of tribune to House of Delegates Speaker Michael Busch — a pillar of state government who died after a bout with pneumonia. Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller said he couldn't sleep or talk about Busch's death.
"Whether student, player, teacher, coach, mentor, delegate, husband, father, brother, parishioner, speaker, consensus builder, counselor or friend, Mike was a great believer in social justice and why we must even the playing field. Without a doubt, this is what Michael Erin Busch has meant to all of our communities," Pindell Charles told an overflow crowd that gathered Tuesday at St. John Neumann Catholic Church in Annapolis for Busch's funeral.
Pindell Charles was among those who recalled the late House of Delegates speaker as a warm friend, a dedicated public servant and a loving father. Busch, 72, died April 7 after being hospitalized with pneumonia.
Mourners, including a who's-who of Maryland politics, listened to Scriptures reminding them of the seasons of life — "a time to mourn and a time to dance" — and the Christian belief that those who believe in God will be rewarded in heaven.
A reception at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium followed the funeral. His family planned a private burial ceremony.
Time and again, Schwartz said, Busch fought against those who sought to enrich themselves: preventing health insurer CareFirst from turning into a for-profit company, keeping racetrack owners from having a monopoly on slot machines, working to reform the University of Maryland Medical System board of directors after learning that some directors had no-bid contracts with the system.
Michael E. Busch, a gregarious former coach and high school teacher who became the longest-serving House of Delegates speaker in Maryland history, has died after a short bout with pneumonia. He was 72.
Anne Arundel County District Judge H. Richard Duden III met Busch when they worked at the county's recreation and parks department. Duden managed Busch's one and only unsuccessful campaign, for House of Delegates in 1982. Even as a novice candidate, Busch seemed to know everyone in town, and everyone took a liking to him, Duden said.
"For Mike, it was all about connecting with people," Duden said. "You've heard of the Intercounty Connector? Mike was the 23 Counties and City of Baltimore Connector."
Busch was relatable, Duden said, because he combined the "North County common-sense toughness" from growing up in Glen Burnie with the "measured urbanity of Annapolis" where he attended high school and later settled.
Busch's daughters, Erin and Megan, recalled their father as a loving dad who never missed their lacrosse games and who was immensely proud of their accomplishments.
Each Sunday, Busch would phone his daughters at college for a weekly chat. Although the women had caller ID on their cell phones, Erin Busch said her father invariably would greet them with: "This is your dad, Mike Busch."
"I was like, 'Dad, I know what your name is,'" Erin Busch said to laughter.
She described her father as, "my coach, my teacher, my best buddy."
As the funeral concluded, Erin, Megan and their mother, Cindy, locked arms and followed the casket out of the church. Gov. Larry Hogan presented the family with a Maryland flag that flew over the State House the day Busch died.
"Taps" was played and the church bells tolled, as mourners blinked away their tears in the bright spring sun.