Darden Jackson (Jack) Bushong died on his birthday February 1st at Mainland Medical Center, Texas City. He died from natural causes.
A resident of Galveston since 1959, Jack was born in New Market, Virginia, on February 1, 1929. He will be remembered for his outstanding achievements in the hotel, tourism, and hospitality industry, his love for golf, and for his dedication to his Rotary Club and the International Golfing Fellowship of Rotarians.
Jack attended Randolph Macon Business College and Cornell University’s Hotel & Restaurant Management College before graduating from Bridgewater College in Virginia. He served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War as a Special Services Officer in the EUCOM HQ in Europe.
After completing his military service, he held hotel management positions with the Hilton Corporation in Chicago, before being asked by the Moody family to move to Galveston to take over the Galvez Hotel, Moody Civic Center and Buccaneer Hotel (now the site of Edgewater Methodist Retirement Community.) Jack was general manager of these three properties during Hurricane Carla in 1961.
Next, he was asked to oversee construction and was named the first resident manager of a new Jack Tar hotel property on Grand Bahamas Island. From there, he assumed the position of general manager of the Grove Park Inn in North Carolina, before returning to Galveston as general manager of The Flagship Hotel in 1964.
After his first retirement from the hotel/hospitality industry, Jack was appointed Executive Director of the Galveston Convention & Visitors Bureau in 1979, a position he held for ten years. When he retired for the second time, he was appointed Executive Secretary for the Rotary Club of Galveston, a position he held until late 2007. Additionally, Jack served for almost 20 years as secretary for the Galveston Country Club.
To many, Jack will always be known for his love of golf and Rotary. His lifelong and enthusiastic interest in both created the opportunity for him to join the International Golfing Fellowship of Rotarians (IGFR) organization in the late 60s. Since 1974, he has served on the Executive Committee, first as vice president, and since 1977, as standing Secretary/Treasurer.
Locally, he has served on the Board of Directors of the Park Board of Trustees, and was chairman of the Tourism Development Committee and Park Board Chairman. He has served on the Boards for the Salvation Army, the Rotary Club of Galveston, the Galveston Chamber of Commerce, and the Galveston Country Club.
His greatest volunteer achievements have been with Rotary International. In 1993, he received special recognition from the President of Rotary International for his leadership in World Fellowship activities. Jack was also a Paul Harris Fellow, recognized as Most Valuable member of his Club, a V.I.T. member, and was listed on the Roll of Fame for his Rotary District #5910. Most recently in 2003, he received the first-ever Heart of Rotary Award created in memory of Rotarian William Felts.
Jack was also very well known and respected for creating and organizing golf tournaments in Galveston. Always motivated for “creating an event that would be good for Galveston and its economy”, he founded in the early 70s and was tournament director for the “Alaskan Open;” a regional tournament held in January; the National Super Seniors - an organization he created in 1976 for senior golfers 65 and over with a handicap of 20 or less - that was held in October; and he also created the “Mr. and Mrs. Tournament” held in November - all events that were held during Galveston’s “slow” tourist season.
Jack is survived by his wife of 31 years, Robyn Russell Bushong; a brother, Robert Bushong and wife, Marie, Midlothian, Virginia; brother-in-law and wife, Gregg and Becki Russell, Austin; and two nephews and one niece Bill Bushong, Rob Bushong, and Debbie Bushong Washburn.
A memorial service will be held Monday, February 9th at 2pm at First Lutheran Church, Galveston, with the Reverend Douglas Guthier officiating. Jack’s wishes were that his body be donated to science as he was a participant in the Willed Body Program, coordinated through the University of Texas Medical Branch. As such, there will be no burial.
On behalf of the family, a very sincere thank you to Dr. Michael Nguyen who has been instrumental in overseeing Jack’s care for the past 18 months.
Donations may be made to the Rotary Club of Galveston Foundation, c/o The Rotary Club of Galveston, 2301 Strand, Galveston, Texas 77550; First Lutheran Church, 2415 Winnie, Galveston, Texas 77550, or M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.