G. Kenner Bush Jr., 1934-2021

Apr 1, 2021


ATHENS, Ohio — G. Kenner Bush Jr., of Athens, Ohio, 86, died Feb. 28, 2021.

Active in community and Ohio University affairs and regional development throughout his 32-year career as publisher of The Athens Messenger, Bush retired with the sale of the newspaper in 1997. His family owned and operated The Messenger for 102 years.

Under his leadership, building upon the work of his father and grandfather before him, The Messenger was an influential voice in representing the interests of Athens and southeastern Ohio.

He built the newspaper offices on Route 33 in 1970 to house the most advanced community newspaper technology of the time and later expanded the facility to include commercial booklet printing.

Born July 30, 1934, in Athens, he was the son of the late Gordon K. and lzotta A. Bush.

A 1952 graduate of Athens High School, Colgate University and Harvard Business School, he served two years in the U.S. Army. He and his wife, Margene (Gilson) Bush, also of Athens, were the third couple married in the Galbreath Chapel following its opening in 1958. He was associated with Gannett Newspapers in Rochester, New York, before returning to Athens in 1962 as assistant publisher of the Messenger. He was named publisher upon his father's death in 1965.

A former trustee of both Ohio University and the Ohio University Foundation, he was a member of two presidential search committees, served as the university's trustee representative on the Inter-University Council of Ohio, and chaired the university's 1991-92 Managing for the Third Century Task Force. He was named an honorary alumnus in 1984 and was awarded the Board of Trustee's Founders Citation in 2004.

Since his retirement, he and his wife have endowed Bush-Manasseh Cutler Scholar Awards at Ohio University for Athens and Athens County high school graduates, the Bush Opportunity Scholarships at Athens High School and the Foundation for Appalachian Ohio.

Long an advocate of better highways to realize a healthier regional economy, he chaired the Highway Users Committee of the Southeastern Ohio Regional Council for 22 years, campaigning for the completion of the Ohio Appalachian Highway across southern Ohio as well as upgrading Routes 33 and 35 through the region. He later represented the area on the Ohio Transportation Review Advisory Council. He was a director and former chairman of the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, as well as trustee and officer of the Ohio Newspaper Association.

In 1994, Bush was awarded the Ohio Governor's Award for his leadership in the field of journalism and regional economic development.

An ardent photographer, his black and white compositions of details in landscape and still life have been exhibited in both group and one-person shows locally, regionally and in Jackson, Wyoming.

In addition to his wife of 62 years, he is survived by his son, Fred (Sheryl) of Athens; daughter-in-law, Sabrina of The Plains; grandchildren, Tiffany, Michael, Millen, Kensia and Finn; step-grandchildren, Salem, CJ and Josh; nephew, Frank (Beth) Spencer Ill of Granville; niece, Jennie (Mark) Weatherley of Boulder, Colorado; and cousins, Philip (Mary Jo) Baedecker of Vienna, Virginia, and Elizabeth Ashton of Houston, Texas.

In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by son, David Gilson Bush; two sisters and their husbands, Joan Bush Spencer and brother-in-law, Frank W. Spencer Jr. and Jennie Ray Bush and brother-in-law, John BIank.

There will be no visiting hours due to COVID-19. The family will gather for a private interment at West Union Street Cemetery. A memorial service will be planned for a later date. Arrangements are with Jagers & Sons Funeral Home, Athens.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Cutler Scholars Konneker-Ping Fund, Ohio University Foundation, P.O. Box 869, Athens; the Foundation for Appalachian Ohio, P.O. Box 456, Nelsonville; or a favorite charity. Please share a memory, a note of condolence or sign the online register at https://bit.ly/3sACLyu