BATH — Robert Bridgham Bussey, 68, a prominent educator and local businessman, died Aug. 19 at his Bath home after a courageous 12-year battle with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.
Born in Gadsen, Ala. on Jan. 26, 1944, he was the first child of Janet Bridgham Bussey and Lynn MacPherson Bussey. He was educated in Bath schools and graduated from Morse High School in 1962. In 1966, he graduated from Wesleyan University with a bachelor’s degree in history. In 1968, he received a master’s in European history from Vanderbilt University.
Bussey taught history and coached at the Pomfret School in Connecticut and also served as the academic headmaster of The American School in Switzerland. In 1976, Bussey was appointed headmaster of Miss Hall’s School and served in that capacity for the next eight years.
After leaving Miss Hall’s, and in his words, “released from a responsible life,” Bussey opened Bridgham & Cook Ltd., a British import store, in partnership with his brother Bill. The venture was motivated in large measure by Bussey’s love of the British Isles and an avenue that would put him in “regular contact with British and Irish pubs.” The store eventually found its way from Exeter, N.H., to its current location in Freeport.
Bussey was a life-long voracious reader, a gifted writer and a man of strong loyalties who treasured his family and friends. His irreverent sense of humor wrapped its arms around the outrageous and the inappropriate. Throughout his life he would go to infinite lengths to pull off pranks on unsuspecting friends, who not only endured them over the years but also came to embrace their insanity.
In 2000, at the time that he was diagnosed with ALS, his neurologist attempted to dissuade Bussey from his plans to “go all the way” with the disease – the assessment being that such a course would be bleak. But to those closest to him, Bussey was a tower of strength.
He is survived by his wife of 23 years, Anne Norment Bussey, of Bath; his daughter, Kate Bussey Paulus and husband, Jay, of Bath; Kate’s mother, Bussey’s first wife, Karen Back Bussey, of Bath; his son, Nicholas B. Bussey, of Brooklyn, N.Y.; his mother, Bussey’s second wife, Lisa S. Bussey, and her partner, Nan Barbour, of Portland; sister Anne Bussey Dale and her husband, Michael, of Ellsworth; brother John M. Bussey and wife, Jiraporn, of Bath; brother William C. Bussey and wife, Nan, of Dedham, Mass; his grandchildren Alexander, Christopher and Isabelle Paulus, all of Bath; several nieces and nephews; and an uncle, F. Robert Bussey and wife, Ruth, of New Orleans.
A celebration of Bussey’s life will take place at 11 a.m., Saturday, Sept. 8, at Grace Episcopal Church, 1100 Washington St., Bath. A luncheon reception will follow at the Bath Country Club. Donations in Bussey’s memory may be made to Fields For Our Future, c/o Bath Parks & Recreation Department, 4 Sheridan Road, Bath, ME 04530.