Sep 012009


John L. “Jack” Bush, 79, local civic and business leader, philanthropist, and consummate family man, passed away August 31, 2009, at the Clarissa C. Cook Hospice House, after a valiant battle with a rare blood disorder, amyloidosis.

A Mass of the Christian burial will be Friday, Sept. 4, 2009 at 10:30 a.m. at St. John Vianney Catholic Church, 4097 18th St., Bettendorf. Visitation will be Thursday, Sept. 3, from 2-6:30 p.m. at the Halligan-McCabe-DeVries Funeral Home, Davenport. The Notre Dame Club of the Quad Cities will lead the rosary Thursday at 6:30 p.m. to conclude the visitation. Burial will be in Mt. Calvary Cemetery, Davenport.

Born in Chicago on Feb. 27, 1930, Jack was the son of the late R. M. “Joe” and Florence (McCabe) Bush.  He and his brothers, Mike and Joe, were raised in Davenport. Jack was a graduate of St. Ambrose Academy and the University of Notre Dame, where he played football under the legendary Coach Frank Leahy. Jack was a member of Notre Dame’s 1949 undefeated, untied National Championship football team, regarded by many Fighting Irish loyalists as the “Greatest Team Ever.”  While at Notre Dame, Jack also participated in the Bengal Bouts, the school’s celebrated intramural boxing program, winning the Heavyweight Championship in 1952 against his toughest opponent ever, his younger brother Joe. Jack earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in philosophy in 1952.

After graduation from Notre Dame, Jack married his high school sweetheart, Patricia McCarthy, on June 21, 1952, in Davenport. Upon a stint in the U.S. Air Force, Jack attended the University of Iowa Graduate School. He began his career in the family business, McCarthy Improvement Company in 1956.  Jack spent most of his years with the company’s limestone quarrying business, Linwood Stone Products, before gaining a majority interest in the business in 1982. The business was eventually organized as the McCarthy Bush Corporation, with Jack being named as chairman and CEO in 1985.  Under Jack’s leadership, the company grew considerably. Today, the McCarthy-Bush Corporation has over 750 employees, with a diverse array of businesses specializing in concrete and asphalt paving; underground limestone mining and lime production; steel fabrication and specialty metal fabrication; general construction and construction management; and real estate development. Jack never lost his entrepreneurial fire, remaining active until his illness limited his activities. He was loved and admired at the McCarthy-Bush headquarters in Davenport, and was everyone’s biggest cheerleader, always showing genuine interest in each employee’s work and personal interests.  His encouragement, warmth, business acumen and easy smile were an inspiration to those who worked around him.

Jack achieved a personal goal of bringing all of his children into the family business.  He was proactive in studying the practices of successful family businesses, becoming a founding member of Loyola University’s Family Business Council in 1991. Jack was inducted into the Quad-City Junior Achievement Hall of Fame; recognized in Ernst & Young’s National Entrepreneur of the Year Awards in 2001 where he received the Midwest nomination in the Construction Category; he accepted the “Century Business of Iowa 2003” award for the McCarthy-Bush Corporation from the Iowa Department of Economic Development for the company’s support of Iowa communities for over 100 years.

Jack believed staying involved in the business kept you on the cutting edge, while also giving back to your community and industry.  Jack served on numerous boards in the limestone industry.  His leadership abilities were recognized locally through his service to St. Ambrose University, Mercy Hospital, Handicapped Development Center, Norwest Bank, MEDIC-EMS, Davenport One, Davenport & Bettendorf Chambers of Commerce, Rotary International and he had served one term on the Bettendorf City Council.

Jack’s philanthropic spirit has greatly benefited numerous local and regional charities. He and his wife, Patricia, organized the McCarthy-Bush Foundation. Organizations benefiting from their generosity include the Scott County Family YMCA, which honored Jack with the Heritage Award in 2005 and the YMCA Leadership Award in 1996, in part due to the many years that McCarthy-Bush has sponsored the Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trot. There have also been formal recognitions for loyal participation in local fund drives for such organizations as the Student Hunger Drive, the Kahl Educational Center, Alleman High School, and Mercy Hospital.

Jack was an outspoken advocate for Catholic education at all levels. He and Patricia have been generous with their support of all of the Catholic grade schools in the area, as well as Davenport Assumption High School. Jack was an avid Assumption sports fan, cheering on his own boys to outstanding wrestling and football careers at Assumption that continued with much success into college. In recent years, he was delighted to attend and cheer on his grandchildren at school endeavors at Lourdes, St. Paul’s, or Assumption; the sacraments, athletics, academics, or the arts.  Jack and Pat were longtime supporters and members of numerous Assumption organizations, including Assumption Foundation, Assumption Boosters, and Assumption Century Club. Jack was honored with the Assumption High School Ray Ambrose Award in 1994. He and Patricia have been instrumental in a number of successful fund drives for Catholic Education; most recently as honorary co-chairs of the Embracing Our Future Campaign in support of K-12 Catholic Education in Scott County.

Jack and Patricia have strongly encouraged their seven children and 30 grandchildren to continue their Catholic education into college and have financially supported a number of Catholic colleges, most notably his alma mater, the University of Notre Dame. He and Patricia have also been supporters of the Newman Center at the University of Iowa. Jack was also a devotee of St. Ambrose University, a loyalty developed in his childhood days living across the street from campus and attending school at St. Ambrose Academy, the predecessor to Assumption High School. Jack was a longtime member of the St. Ambrose Board of Trustees; co-chaired 1994’s “The Campaign for St. Ambrose University;” was named an honorary alumnus in 1986; and was recognized as a 25-year member of the President’s Club in 2008.  In 1994, St. Ambrose University awarded Jack with an honorary degree, the Doctor of Business Administration, in recognition for his longtime loyalty and support of the university.

The core of Jack’s existence was in his Catholic faith.  He was a member of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish and St. John Vianney Parish in Bettendorf. Jack was stalwart in his belief in the pro-life Movement, providing support for the Women’s Choice Center in Bettendorf.  Jack and Pat have also been very generous to a number of national and international Catholic-based organizations, including Catholic Relief Services (CRS), where he served on the Leadership Council in 2002. Jack was honored in 2001 for his leadership and loyalty to the Catholic Church, awarded membership in the Order of Knights of St. Gregory by Pope John Paul II.  Jack was also a founding member of the Quad City Chapter of Legatus. Perhaps the culmination of Jack’s lifelong support of Catholic education was recognized when he was named the recipient of the St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Award, by the National Catholic Education Association in Washington, DC.

Jack is survived by the love of his life, Patricia, and his seven children and spouses; Lawrence (Leslie) Bush, Joseph (Katie) Bush, Gregory Bush, Barbara (Michael) Johnson, Thomas (Susan) Bush, Peter (Julie) Bush, and Mary (Tim) Walsh.  He also leaves behind 30 grandchildren who will lovingly remember and look up to their grandpa. Jack was very proud of his entire family.  Also surviving are his brother, Joe and his wife, Ann; and his sister-in-law, Carmelita Bush. Jack was preceded in death by his parents, and his brother Mike “Roy” Bush.

Memorials may be made to the Embracing Our Future Campaign, the Women’s Choice Center, or Assumption High School.

Online remembrances and condolences may be expressed by visiting Jack’s obituary at

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