Obituary: Edward Idaet Bushka
Edward Idaet Bushka, 89, passed away on April 17, 2020, at Saint Mary’s Hospital. He was the husband of Margarita (Prifty Bushka) of 61 years.
Edward was born in Albania on July 5, 1930, son of the late Halil and Haxhire (Fazo) Bushka. Edward hails from a small town of Pilur, in the district of Korca in South Eastern Albania. His hometown was approximately 12 miles left of Albania’s lengthy border with Greece.
In 1950, five years after Albania fell to an authoritarian socialist/communist movement fronted by Enver Hoxha, Edward Bushka, then 19 years old, and his father Halil, were forced to flee across the Pindus Mountains to Greece. Their flight to freedom conducted in the company of about 25 fellow Korcan refugees, came shortly after they had been warned by a friend that as land owners their lives were in danger.
The two Bushkas were forced to leave Edward’s mother and seven siblings behind. The thought of leaving his family was something he always struggled with. That was over 60 years ago, and he would always say how thinking about that night still bothered him. Once in Greece, he was one of nine members of his group recruited by a multinational, quasi-military agency that was based in Greece and opposed to the communist regime in Albania, which had been renamed the People’s Republic of Albania. He said that they were in constant need of intelligence from within Albania, including information on troop strength and movements, the location of supply routes, and updated lists of Albanians who have been imprisoned or killed. Being young, and angry, the group was asked if they were interested in getting the communists out of Albania. So that was enough to keep them going back.
He and his compatriots would sneak across the mountains, usually under the cover of darkness, gather information and escape back into Greece. During one mission, Edward learned that a group of communist leaders had arrived in the Korca region to attend a high level meeting. He immediately began hatching a plot to welcome the visitors to South Eastern Albania by detonating a bomb. He was talked out of the scheme by the elderly man, his son Eddie, would meet during the family’s trip in 2000 to Pilur.
With tears streaming down his face, the old man told Eddie that planting that bomb would have been a suicide mission. A successful detonation would have also triggered harsh and deadly reprisals by the communists against the helpless townspeople of Korca. He was crying as he told Eddie Jr. the story, Eddie recalled. “To him, it was still very emotional.” Edward completed approximately 15 missions into Albania over about four years. Three of the ten men in his original recruiting class were killed trying to feed information back to Greece. Bushka himself was shot at a number of times, but managed to survive with nothing more damaging than a pair of bullet holes in his coat. His most important mission took place in 1951 when he led a team back into Pilur to liberate six of his youngest siblings. The rescue party included a donkey, because Bushka realized his youngest sister, then eight, and his five-year-old brother could not cross the rugged mountains without the help. Sadly the party did not include Edward’s mother, Haxire, and youngest brother, Skender, whom the communists had moved far from Pilur, presumably because Skender was born blind.
Edward and his siblings were not reunited with their mother and brother until 1991, when the regime finally collapsed. He always cherished the memory of his siblings being reunited with their father, Halil. Edward and his father Halil had been separated shortly after arriving in Greece when Halil was moved to a different refugee camp. The two hadn’t seen each other for two years, and Halil had no idea that his son was running intelligence missions, much less had rescued most of the family. His father couldn’t believe his ears when the people at his refugee camp told him that his family had arrived. He couldn’t believe they were going to be reunited and that they had all been brought across the border through the mountains.
Edward and his family came to the United States in 1954 and settled in Waterbury, which was already the home of several relatives. The family’s arrival in New York happened to be picked up by a television news-crew. The ensuing network broadcast attracted the attention of a young Waterbury native of Albanian descent, Margarita Prifty. Margarita first saw him on TV and thought he was adorable, and as fate would have it, Margarita would end up marrying him, the young man she first saw on a tiny, black and white TV screen.
Today, the couple has five children, four of whom work at the family business, and nine grandchildren. When Edward came to Waterbury, he went to work at Lescare Kitchens as a cabinet maker. He stayed for two weeks, as long as it took him to familiarize himself with modern American power tools and equipment. Once he understood how everything worked, he borrowed $10,000 from an uncle and opened his own cabinet making business and small hardware and tool retail store.
Utilizing the basement of the Williams Street house in which he was living, he specialized in small cabinet making and carpentry jobs at homes and businesses in his neighborhood. Edward and four of his younger brothers opened Bushka lumber on Fairfield Avenue, a business the four brothers operated together for the next 40 years. In 1994, the Bushka family realized there were too many family members for one business to support. So, his brother Steven remained at Bushka Lumber, his brother Jimmy opened a lumber company in Naugatuck and Edward, his son and his daughters opened American Millwork on Wolcott Street in Waterbury.
Edward ran his business surrounded by his family as he did since he first set foot in America. He was a proud father, a successful businessman and a pillar of his adopted community. He is a hero that every father wants to be. Edward sat on the board of directors of Mattatuck Bank in Waterbury and sat on the board of the Waterbury Crime Stoppers for several years. He received the lumber person of the year award from the Lumber Dealers Association of Connecticut in 2012.
Being deemed Honorary Albanian Mayor of the Day in the city of Waterbury, Mr. Bushka also received the lifetime achievement award from the Albanian American Muslim community in appreciation of his many years of outstanding service and dedication to the community.
Being a successful businessman and developer, Mr. Bushka built several commercial and residential projects throughout the city of Waterbury. He was loyal to the city in all of his business’s endeavors.
His fondness for the city came from the open arms of the Town Plot neighborhood that accepted him when he came here as a 20-year-old immigrant with minimal education. That neighborhood put faith in him and allowed him into their homes helping him build his business over the next 40 years. Since he came to this country, all he did was help people. He sponsored people to help them get on their feet. That was his legacy. He will go down as a great, selfless man who will be missed by everyone and during this terrible time, everybody’s love and wishes will be cherished forever.
Besides his wife Margarita, he is survived by his five children; Edward Bushka and his wife Tamara (Cipriano) of Watertown, Carolyn “Lynne” Bushka and her partner Michael Angurio of Waterbury, Marianne Bushka of Waterbury, Dianne Bushka Francisco of Waterbury, and Leslie Bushka Vega and her husband David of Needham, Mass. He is also survived by his siblings, Steven Bushka and his wife Tefta of Waterbury, Kenny and his wife Tefta of Middlebury, Jimmy and his wife Drita of Middlebury, Peggy and her husband Frank Barolli Waterbury, Skender Bushka of Waterbury, his sister-in-law Aire Bushka of Waterbury, his nine grandchildren; Jason Fusco, Jonathan Fusco and his wife Jess, Valerie and Rachel Francisco, Allison and David Vega and Madison, Paydon and Devon Bushka as well as several nieces and nephews.
Edward is predeceased by his sister Joan Ali and her husband Ned and his brother John Xhelal Bushka.
The family of Edward Bushka wishes to extend our sincere thanks to their loving care givers, Sonya, Belkes and Felicia.
Due to the pandemic of the COVID-19 Virus, all funeral services for Mr. Bushka will be private and at the convenience of the family. A celebration of life will be announced and held at a later date_ Chase Parkway Memorial, The Albini Family Funeral Home, 430 Chase Parkway, Waterbury, has been entrusted with handling Edward’s funeral arrangements.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made in Mr. Bushka’s memory to:
The Boys & Girls Club of Waterbury
1037 East Main Street
Waterbury, CT 06705
Waterbury Police Activity League (PAL)
64 Division Street
Waterbury, CT 06704
For more info or to send e-condolences visit: chaseparkwaymemorial.com.