James Charles “Bud” Bushnell
July 21, 1939 – November 4, 2010
The sparkling love and true enjoyment of life in his eyes will never be forgotten. It was a gift for anyone who ever met him. “BUD” James Charles Bushnell, 71, of Santa Barbara passed gently into God’s arms on Thursday, November 4, 2010, in his home after a triumphant battle with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease). Born in Cement, Oklahoma, on July 21, 1939, to Walter Lee and Sylvus Irene Bushnell, he was the middle of three children. He moved to California as a young boy and attended Inglewood High School. Bud married his college sweetheart; Brenda Lee Meeks (deceased), on May 27, 1960 in Los Angeles. They had two children.
Bud struggled his entire life with Dyslexia, but it didn’t keep him from becoming a master student and educator. Bud would always carry a dictionary, refusing to let one written or spoken word go misunderstood. Bud also was an avid reader by virtue of the Braille Institute’s audio tapes. He became a student of life and wanted to learn something new every day. He was excited to share his knowledge with anyone who was willing to learn. In 1966, he began his apprenticeship with the IBEW (International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers) as an Industrial Electrician, where he would retire after 40 years. Simultaneously, he became a Realtor and a successful Real Estate investor. In his earlier years as an electrician, he took special pride each year in helping light the Christmas tree on the corner of Carrillo and Chapala in Santa Barbara. His residences included Cement, OK; Inglewood, CA; Gardena, CA, and he would make his final move to the Goleta/Santa Barbara area in 1972 to give his young family a great place to live.
He and Brenda joined the BPOE Elk’s Lodge in Santa Barbara, where Brenda, with his unending support, was later elected Emblem Club president. Amongst the many years he donated time and money, he also donated his construction expertise to the Elk’s Lodge when it was expanded and remodeled during the 70’s. In 1977-78 Bud took flying lessons with his son, David. He enjoyed working with his son when he followed in Bud’s footsteps as an Industrial Electrician. They worked together on jobs such as Vandenberg Air Force Base, Chumash Hotel and San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station just to name a few. Bud and his daughter, Lisa, planned family reunions together. He passed the torch of family historian down to her. He taught her the accounting aspect of the real estate business, but was sure to teach her how to change tires, use tools and do her own car maintenance. One of his treasured skills was the abacus. He tried to teach all of his kids and grandkids, but he remained the only one that could use it.
He loved music of any kind. In high school Bud played the saxophone, but he went on to teach himself the guitar, harmonica & piccolo. Bud was dedicated to the art of square dancing, line dancing, round dancing, and ballroom dancing with various groups as Bachelors & Bachelorettes, Taws ‘n’ Paws, Left Footers and Goleta Valley Community Center. Bud did not speak of his charitable work, so many of his closest friends will learn things about him that they never knew, but they will not be surprised. Everyone who met him immediately knew Bud was a man concerned about ethics, integrity, and honor. He led by example, not by words.
Bud was a 32nd degree Scottish Rite Mason. Masonry was very dear to his heart. He became an Entered Apprentice on February 13, 1968; in Rialto, California, Lodge #582. Passed on April 30, 1968 and Raised to Master Mason on November 26, 1968, all at the Rialto Lodge. He later joined Camarillo Lodge #824, and from there he affiliated with Santa Barbara Lodge #192 on December 7, 1972. Bud continued his membership with the Camarillo Lodge and the Santa Barbara Lodge as well as Scottish Rite.
He donated countless hours to Habitat for Humanity. Months before his death, Bud purchased a new set of drums for the Dos Pueblos High School Marching Band, where his granddaughter, Jessica Ley, is a member of the drum line. Due to the customization of these drums, the time of his passing did not make it possible for him to donate the drums personally, as they are scheduled to arrive in February. During Bud’s last days, it was clear that he continued as a student in his pursuit of learning including the process of his final journey, the end of his life. He shared this experience with those around him as an educator, showing by actions rather than words what true courage and honor is.
Bud is survived by his stepmother, Elsie Bushnell of Fontana, CA; his son, David Bushnell of Santa Maria; his daughter, Lisa Bushnell of Santa Barbara; his grandchildren, Lexi, 29; Jeremy, 22; Krystal, 19, and, Jessica, 16; his brother, Chet Bushnell (Divina) of Allen, TX; his sister, Betty Bushnell of Ogden, UT; and, his stepbrother, Wayne Woods of Fontana, CA.
Memorial services will be held at Welch-Ryce-Haider at 450 Ward Drive and will include a viewing on Thursday, November 11, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and service on Friday, November 12, at 10 a.m. Internment follows at Goleta Cemetery, at 44 S. San Antonio Rd.
The family asks, that in lieu of flowers, contributions can be made in honor of James “Bud” Bushnell to the Scottish Rite Free Language Disorder Center for Children at 16 E. Carrillo St., Santa Barbara, CA 93101.