Obituary: Robert Roy Bushman, Sr.
On April 26, Robert Roy (“Bob”) Bushman, Sr., 93, passed away at his home in Sykesville, Maryland as a result of complications related to COVID-19 .
Bob was born in Appleton, Wisconsin on January 28, 1927, to the late Herman and Barbara (Gruentzel) Bushman. As a youth, Bob enjoyed skiing and was an accomplished ski-jumper, participating in numerous competitions, winning a number of distance titles and the Most Graceful Skier. Even at an early age, Bob’s leadership abilities were recognized, as he was elected President of the Appleton Junior Ski Club (1944-1945). Though he eventually left the jumping aspect behind, Bob continued skiing well into his later years, and his enchantment with the slopes was replete with a number of family vacations to Mt. Snow in Vermont and weekend excursions to Ski Roundtop (Lewisberry, PA).
After graduating from St. Mary’s Catholic High School in Neenah, WI in 1945, he studied Pre-Forestry at the University of Wisconsin from 1945-1947 and then went on to earn a Bachelor of Science degree in Forestry from Michigan State College (now Michigan State University) in 1949 – Bob remained exceptionally proud of his “Spartan” heritage throughout his life. Bob furthered his education over the years by attending post-graduate courses, including Business Law at the University of Baltimore, as well as numerous business and forest products industry seminars.
Bob began his professional career as a Forester with the Maryland Department of Forest, Parks and Wildlife from 1949-1952. From 1952-1956, he was the Assistant Manager of a small forest products company in Baltimore, MD, while at the same time serving as a Consulting Forester to various landowners throughout the state of Maryland. In 1956, he employed with The Mann and Parker Lumber Company (often referred to as “M&P”), a Baltimore-based lumber distributor founded in 1902, as General Manager, and shortly thereafter, purchased the company from the widows of the original founders, Stephen S. Mann and Frank A. Parker.
Not long after establishing himself professionally, Bob was introduced to the daughter of one of his customers, and on December 28, 1957, Bob married Lorine “Honey” Protzman. Some years later, Bob learned that when his ancestors had emigrated to the U.S. from Belgium, the original family surname of Bosman (which meant “man of the woods” in the native language) was “anglicized” to Bushman, and seeing as how Honey’s family and ancestors were renowned woodworkers from Germany, there was little wonder that Bob was destined to be a lumberman. As he liked to say “I’ve got wood in my veins”.
Bob and Honey had four sons while living in Towson, MD: Robert, Jr., Christopher, Stephen and David . The family moved to Monkton, MD in 1967, where Bob and Honey remained until moving to LaQuinta, California in 2004.
As Bob’s family grew, so did his business. When purchasing Mann and Parker, Bob was one of five existing employees at the company. Within a few short years, in large part as a result of Bob’s drive and work ethic, the business had grown tremendously, both in sales as well as number of employees (which Bob consistently referred to as “M&P’s most valuable asset”). By the mid-1960s, when the Baltimore facility alone could no longer fully satisfy the company’s needs, Mann and Parker expanded by opening a satellite branch and dry kiln facility in Cockeysville, MD. Mann and Parker’s momentum was interrupted when fire completely destroyed the original Baltimore offices and warehouses on New Year’s Eve, December 31, 1969. Fortunately, by that time plans were already being formulated to construct a new state-of-the-art facility in New Freedom, Pennsylvania (Bob had chosen New Freedom due to its proximity to the Port of Baltimore for import and export opportunities, as well as access to rail service). As construction in New Freedom was nearing completion, Bob had to overcome another blow as the Cockeysville facility was severely damaged by flooding related to Hurricane Agnes in 1972. Mann and Parker subsequently moved its headquarters to New Freedom in 1972, with full operations in New Freedom commencing in 1974, where it has remained active since. Despite these all-but biblical setbacks, under Bob’s leadership Mann and Parker had grown to be recognized as one of the largest independent distributors of forest products in the Middle Atlantic States. By the early 1980s, the company had blossomed to 80+ employees and was actively distributing hardwoods not only throughout the entire nation, but exporting to a number of countries in Europe as well. By the 1990s, approaching 70 years of age (when even the most driven business leader may be ready to retire), Bob’s entrepreneurial spirit was undiminished, as he spearheaded the formation of an affiliated company and newly constructed facility in Meadville, PA, the M&P Lumber Company, LLC. All four of Bob’s sons have worked for the company he had built over the years, with three of the four enjoying 25+ year careers with Mann and Parker (his youngest son David is current CEO). Most people that had the good fortune to work with Bob at “M&P” knew him simply as “Mr.B.”, a term that is all-but synonymous with “Dad” to his sons.
Though raising a family and building a business consumed a good deal of Bob’s time, he always found time to support his industry. He was an active member in a number of business and industry associations and committees, often serving on the respective Board of Directors , including: Society of American Foresters (since 1949); Past Chairman, Maryland Board of Registration for Professional Foresters, appointed by three Maryland Governors (Marvin Mandel, Blair Lee and Harry Hughes), serving from 1972-1983 – in fact, Mr. Bushman was one of the original 5 officially registered Professional Foresters in the state of MD, and served as the Board’s inaugural Chairman; Baltimore City Citizens for Equal Business Opportunities (CEBO); delegate to the White House Conference on Small Business (1980); Industry Sector Advisory Committee for Lumber and Wood Products, U.S. Department of Commerce (1980-1982); Pennsylvania Forest Industry Advisory Committee (appointed by Governor Thornburgh); Past Director and President, Keystone Kiln Drying Association; Past Chairman, Hardwood Committee, North American Wholesale Lumber Association; Past Director, Hardwood Distributor’s Association; past Director, Northern Hardwood and Pine Association; Past Director and President, Lumber Trade Association. He also was a speaker at meetings, and contributor of writings for publication, for a variety of trade associations.
Bob actively supported the development of the next generation of wood products professionals through donations to universities and contributions toward scholarships, as well as his participation on advisory committees and boards for a number of universities, including: College of Natural Resources, Virginia Polytechnic & State University (“Virginia Tech”), Blacksburg, VA; College of Natural Resources, Pennsylvania College of Technology (“Penn Tech”), Williamsport, PA, and; College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI.
As his sons and the business both became more self-sufficient, Bob was able to find more time for golf, and he and Honey both became avid – and proficient – golfers. Over the years, they enjoyed attending countless industry meetings and conventions – especially those that included a round or two of golf! They were long-time members of Hillendale Country Club (“HCC”) in Phoenix, MD where they often competed for their respective club championships, and 20-plus year members at PGA West in LaQuinta, CA. Bob’s competitive fire was as evident on the links as it was in the business world; though he might have taken umbrage if ever jokingly accused of being a “sandbagger” himself, he took no issue with enrolling his son (sporting a 30+ handicap) in a few HCC team tournaments – at least until he later learned how well-earned that 30+ handicap was!
Soon after attending an industry meeting – and, yes, a related golf outing – in southern California in the early ’80s, Bob and Honey were “snow birding” in the Palm Desert area. It only took a few trips for Bob and Honey to quickly fall in love with the Coachella Valley, and, surprising to some, Bob adapted to the sunny California lifestyle rather quickly. As a testament, when he showed up at the Mann and Parker office in PA after returning from one of his CA visits, one of his employees noticed the normally straight-laced conservative former-Midwesterner with not only no tie, but TWO buttons undone on his shirt, and exclaimed “Uh oh! Mr. B’s gone Californian!” As the years progressed, so too did the length of Bob and Honey’s stays in CA, which led to them purchasing a home at Woodhaven in Palm Desert and a few years later at PGA West in LaQuinta. Even when he was well beyond age 70, regardless of how long he was in CA, Bob never left his business behind – he had the hacienda of his LaQuinta home converted into an office and was typically on the phone with the Mann and Parker office weekly (if not daily), and frequently travelled to visit customers throughout the L.A. basin with the company’s sales representative. As three-month stays progressed to six month stays, Bob and Honey sold their home in Monkton in 2004 and moved to their home in LaQuinta full time. After over 50 years of dedicated service to his family, his business and its employees (his “M&P family”), and the forest products industry, Bob spent the following 7+ years focused on enjoying time with Honey, golf, and furthering their friendships with their PGA West friends. Unfortunately, Bob’s time with Honey, his beloved wife of 54+ years, was cut short when she passed away after a brief battle with cancer on August 31, 2012. Bob returned to Maryland in 2014, where he remained until his death.
When not playing golf, Bob quenched his thirst for sports by supporting his local Maryland teams, either by attending games or tuning in on the television or the radio. The Orioles for baseball – Mann and Parker was an O’s season ticket holder for 50+ years dating back to the 1950s, and Bob frequently attended games with his customers and sons (even though his sons often left somewhat disappointed, as Bob, forever regimented about early-to-bed, early-to-rise, would RARELY stay beyond the top of the 7th!); when not attending games, Bob spent many nights drifting off to sleep to the sound of Chuck Thompson and Bill O’Donnell and the crackling sound of their WBAL broadcast on his transistor radio. The Colts (that’s BALTIMORE Colts!!) for football – Bob and Honey entertained customers at most home games, along with tailgating at (appropriately) the Tail of the Fox in Timonium, and Bob always got a kick out of having watched “Johnny U” work his magic on the gridiron on Sundays and then years later being able to rub elbows with him at Hillendale. Though Bob had always felt more of a connection to his Colts, it didn’t take him long to become a Ravens fan when football returned to Baltimore. It was the Maryland Terrapins for college hoops – though there was never a doubt which team he’d be rooting for if/when the Terps faced the Spartans.
Bob was a faithful attendee at The Church of the Immaculate Conception, Towson, MD (where his sons attended grade school), St. John the Baptist Catholic Church, New Freedom, PA and St. Francis Assisi Catholic Church, La Quinta, CA.
Bob is survived by his four sons: Robert, Jr., Christopher, Stephen and David; five grandchildren: Carrie Akins, Melinda Hershner, Robert (Robby) III, Stephanie Carroll and Angela Bushman; eight great-grandchildren: Kate, Adam, Samuel, Owen, Shoshanna, Miriam, Jack and Mateus, and; brother Herman, Jr. and sister Loretta.
He was preceded in death by his wife Honey and his siblings Marion Casey, Ione Kaminski, Rita Scovronske, Sr. Irene Bushman, Elizabeth McMullen, Lorraine Bushman, and Thomas Bushman, Sr.
Over the course of his life, Bob fulfilled many roles, frequently more than one at the same time – devoted husband; loving father; brother; provider; businessman; forester & lumberman; “boss”; mentor; loyal friend & associate; silent critic, yet vocal and supportive counselor; teacher, yet forever the student. For those that he touched in any of these ways, he will be deeply missed.
A private graveside service will be conducted at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church, 315 Constitution Ave., New Freedom, PA. The family will arrange a Celebration of Life and Memorial Mass to be held at a date deemed appropriate such that family and friends may gather in remembrance of Bob.
In lieu of flowers, please consider memorial donations to the American Cancer Society or the Alzheimer’s Association in Bob’s memory. For more information regarding the life and accomplishments of Robert R. Bushman, Sr., please visit www.peacefulalternatives.com
Source: Peaceful Alternatives Funeral & Cremation Center