Raise your hand if you were lucky enough to have had Mrs. Busch as your grade school teacher while attending Highland, Rimrock, Meadowlark, or Newman Elementary schools.
For 24 years she enjoyed sharing her knowledge with her students, and spoke fondly of them after her retirement. On chance meetings with them, they still addressed her as Mrs. Busch. It is heartwarming to know how much they appreciated her.
We will describe to the best of our knowledge the highlights of our mother’s life of eighty one years as we recall them. There were so many and as each day goes by we think of many more. We will begin with our parent’s courtship.
Mom graduated from Billing Central Catholic High School and soon met her cowboy, through a mutual friend, Father Keating, His name was Gene Busch. On what should have been their first date, dad being a country gentleman, properly visited mom at her family home to ask her out. Unbeknownst to him, she had made prior plans for that night. Due to dad’s persistence and his proposal of marriage, they exchanged wedding vows on Dec. 30, 1958. We kids think it was the red cowgirl boots dad purchased for her that could have also been a factor.
After their storybook wedding, dad gave up the cowboy life and became a family man. He accepted a job in Spokane, Washington, where their first child, Kurt, was born. When a few years had passed, mom and dad missed the Montana country life. They packed up their little family and headed back to Billings.
Dad took a job as a farm/ranch hand in Molt, working for Fred and Tiny Downs. This proved to be their permanent residence for years to come. They wanted to raise their children in a country setting. As time went on, Scott and then Heather completed the Busch family. Living on the windblown prairie, and lack of water made country life hard. In those days, you didn’t just call for a water delivery. Scott remembers mom’s casseroles and meatloaves. He states, ‘When you are a kid you don’t appreciate the casseroles and meatloaves, however, later on, they were the best. Her caramels she made from the fresh cream where melt in your mouth delicious’. Kurt remembers, ‘When chocolate pudding was for dessert, liver cooked in bacon fat and onions were the main course’. Heather remembers the family was always around the table for dinner.
Mom sold eggs to make a little side cash for her children. As kids, we were involved in the country school athletics of basketball and track. Our parents attended and cheered us on even if it meant traveling over dangerous backcountry roads.
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Mom met many close, good friends that shared her country lifestyle. Susan Lane, urged her on to complete her college education, while Charlene McFarland helped her type her papers. Mom developed other close relationships including Shirley Downs who lived only a mile down the road. She was mom’s best friend out there. They did so much together just to make it fun cleaning cupboards and grocery shopping. In fact, they were so close their kids even shared measles, chicken pox, and other childhood illnesses. This was typical for this era.
When the boys became a little more independent, Mom decided to return to college. Being the determined lady that she was she overcame many obstacles, i.e., commuting 21 miles to Billings, (sometimes in blizzard conditions), childcare for Heather, preparing hot meals for her family every night, as well as keeping up her studies. She was thrilled to finally receive her Bachelor of Science Degree in Education.
When summer came, mom would pack us kids up along with Grandma A in the car along with the tent, sleeping bags, fishing poles, and food for a week. We had two favorite campsites at West Rosebud and Emerald Lake. Everyone had a designated job setting up camp. When the camp chores were done everyone grabbed their fishing pole and headed to the lakes and streams.
Grandma A, being a realtor, came across a listing for a cabin on an old dude ranch on the road to East Rosebud Lake. This was our upgraded camping and mom was able to perfect her fly fishing skills. She loved to go fly fishing on the East Rosebud and on the lakes up above where she would do day hikes with her dog Jenny. They would also do a little Huckleberry picking on the way up and down the trail. When Jenny picked them though, she would eat them. She also built long lasting friendships with her many mountain neighbors who referred to her as Kitty B. When school was out for the summer, she would renew her friendships at the cabin, making regular visits with her friends like Arlee Patton and Mary Ellen Mangus, and so many other great people who know who they are, or go for early morning walks on the road with Ceilie, and of course Jenny. These walks also included a little Knapweed pulling as she waged her war on getting rid of it.
Everybody knew Kitty B, and she knew everybody. The cabin had become a meeting place of enjoyment for the whole family and new friends. Mom enjoyed passing on her knowledge of the outdoors to her nephews, nieces, grandchildren, great grandchildren and kids in general. Whether it be on birds, trees, weeds, or fishing, she was always teaching. Mom continues to carry on her zest for knowledge and educating by donating her body to the WAMI Program.
Our mom was a wonderful woman, wife, mother, grandmother, sister, and aunt who had a positive impact on all the people she came in contact with. She will be greatly missed but always in our hearts and minds. We will always cherish her encouragement and pray we will live up to it. Per her request there will not be a formal service. There will be a celebration of her life at her cabin on a later date.
Mom’s living legacy include her husband Gene; sons Kurt (Martha), Scott (Brenda); and daughter Heather (John Lewis); 8 grandchildren, and 4 great- grandchildren. She is the oldest of 6 kids; Michael (deceased), Deirdre, (John Schafnitz), Dianne (Roger Ogren), Peggy (Mark Frey), Podriac (Kristen Moriarty). If you intended to send flowers, please instead consider a donation to the Yellowstone National Park in memory of Kitty B, she used to like visiting it during the summer.