The teacher, writer, poet, mother, and grandmother, Virginia Olsen Bush, 78, of Durham, CT, passed away peacefully at home on November 2nd, 2022, after a battle with cancer.
Virginia was born on October 6th, 1944 to the late William and Virginia Olsen in New Haven, CT, and moved several times with her family to Guilford, CT, Clinton, CT, Gary, IN, Westport, CT, and then to Redding, CT.
As the editor of her high school newspaper, she drew national attention by writing a powerful editorial, calling for humanitarian aid to the Chinese who were dying of famine. Showing wisdom far beyond her years, she advocated for us to go beyond nationalism and find a higher purpose, because even though the famine victims were communists, they were also human.
After graduating from Joel Barlow High School in Redding, CT in 1962, she went to the University of Michigan, meeting her future husband, Milton W. Bush Jr., in a class on the poet Geoffrey Chaucer, where the professor announced his reputation for matchmaking on the first day. She received a B.A. in English in 1965. Virginia went on to get a M.A. in English from Indiana University in 1966, and her intellectual curiosity led her to study French, German, Latin, Persian, and Arabic.
Virginia and Milton married in 1966, and moved to Detroit, MI, where she taught English at Wayne State University. In 1969, they moved to Port Huron, MI to raise a family, including Adam, born in 1971, and Ryan, born in 1973. They moved to Durham, CT in 1983 and stayed the rest of their lives in the house they loved so dearly.
Virginia applied her brilliant mind and skill with languages by teaching English as a Second Language to many beloved students from 1993 to 2022. She also carefully studied how her African grey parrot, Chaucer, learned to use English meaningfully, leading to spectacular insights about animal intelligence and the inner life of a bird, which she shares in her forthcoming book "Talking with Chaucer: A Parrot's English."
Virginia was an equally talented poet, finding beauty hidden in everyday things, like the 'radiant stillness' hidden in a thorny holly tree. She made two beautiful hand-bound books of her poems, as well as publishing "A Singing Wire" in 2019, as a duet between her poems and her son's, Ryan, photographs. Virginia was also an excellent cook, and a creative artist who made intricate photographs of flowers using a flatbed scanner, as well as beautiful, marbled paper and hand-bound books. She was also a passionate gardener, but her biggest passion was helping other people any way she could.
Virginia was predeceased by her husband, Milton. She is survived by her loving family, including her son, Adam Bush and his daughters, Natalie and Zoey of Alpharetta, Georgia; her son, Ryan Bush and his husband, Steven Nouriani of Aptos, California; her brother, Doug Olsen and his wife, Suzanne of Mechanic Falls, Maine; her brother, Paul Olsen of Dover, Delaware; and by numerous nieces and nephews.
We will miss her greatly. A private memorial service is planned for her immediate family and close friends.
Published by Middletown Press on Nov. 15, 2022.