Augusta historic preservationist, gardener Marie 'Frenchie' Bush dies at 85

Monday, March 12, 2012 6:52 PM
Last updated Tuesday, March 13, 2012 3:12 PM
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 Marie “Frenchie” Bush, a historic preservationist and former president of the Garden Club of America, died Monday at Trinity Hospital. She was 85.

Marie "Frenchie" Bush worked to preserve historic buildings in Augusta and to document the area's many historic gardens.   FILE/STAFF
Marie "Frenchie" Bush worked to preserve historic buildings in Augusta and to document the area's many historic gardens.

An Augusta native, she founded Historic Augusta Inc. and the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation with her husband, Bill, who preceded her in death, and was instrumental in establishing Historic Augusta as a leading preservation organization in the Southeast, those who knew her said.

For her role in saving many historic buildings in Augusta, including the Old Government House, the Gertrude Herbert Institute of Art and the Old Medical College of Georgia, Bush was highlighted in Movers
& Shakers in Georgia in 1978 and
received the Garden Club of America Historic Preservation Award for Zone VIII.

Ross Snellings, a broker at Sand Hills Real Estate and a family friend, said he will remember her as a vocal champion for preserving the past.

“She was passionate about so many things but most of all, she was passionate about historic preservation and saving historic structures,” he said.

Bush’s zeal for celebrating the past preceded her, he said. When a section of brick-paved Lombardy Court in Forest Hills neighborhood was paved over with blacktop years ago, Snellings said, the project was scheduled during Bush’s vacation so she couldn’t intervene.

“Her reputation for saving the pretty, old things like the brick pavers was well-known,” he said.

Bush’s daughter Gigi Taylor, of Atlanta, said her mother’s greatest legacy was in improving her hometown.

“She leaves behind a better Augusta,” she said. “She was a great encourager.”

Another daughter, Mary Norwood, also of Atlanta, said her mother was not only active in a long list of causes but also could instill a passion for service into others.

“She could get on a stage and talk to people, and everyone leaves thinking, ‘I can do that, I can help,’ ” Norwood said.

Bush’s son Ware, of Atlanta, said his mother’s causes ranged from the gardens of Augusta to St. Mary on the Hill Catholic Church, but she approached them all with the same enthusiasm and concern.

“The world was a stage for her, and she played a lot of roles,” he said. “Most of all, they were very sincere.”

One of Bush’s most notable projects was a slideshow documenting Augusta’s many historic gardens, which was later turned over to the Smithsonian Institution. Her son Whatley Bush, of Augusta, said this was a labor of love for her.

“Frenchie loved the city of Augusta,” he said.

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scott-hudson 03/12/12 - 09:38 pm
What a treasure and a

What a treasure and a trailblazer of a woman...I am sure she was greeted at the gates of Heaven and immediately fitted with a pair of angel wings.

JRC2024 03/13/12 - 09:01 am
She lived near my mother and

She lived near my mother and was a good friend. Such was such a nice person. I hope people remember me like that.

kdelaigle 03/13/12 - 03:29 pm
She was a Great Lady and left

She was a Great Lady and left the world a better place. Our Family owes her a great deal for her astute genealogical work, and for sharing our heritage to pass on to future generations.
Kevin de l'Aigle

shannonhpowell 03/13/12 - 09:44 pm
Oh dear sweet Mrs. Bush--I

Oh dear sweet Mrs. Bush--I had the pleasure of sharing a love for tea parties, china, and fine Irish linen with her. We hosted a "tea" for her at Shanhil Sweets in 2008. Mrs. Bush would tell me stories of all things adventures she had in her life---a true, southern iron-willed lady. She will be missed by many.

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