Carmelita “Carm” Bush was born in 1924, the eighth of nine children to Frank Gilroy and Mary Frances “Mamie” McLaughlin. Carm grew up on a farm near Lost Nation, Iowa, and attended Myatt Country School and Lost Nation High School.
After high school, Carm attended Clarke College in Dubuque, Iowa, followed by positions at an advertising agency, a clerk for a U.S. representative, and an executive secretary at Deere and Company. Carm entertained the idea of becoming a Catholic nun. After joining an order, her Mother Superior talked her out of the nun ministry by saying she envisioned Carm not in a nun’s habit, but, “at the end of a receiving line at her wedding.” Her children wish to thank Mother Superior.
On August 25, 1951, Carm married the love of her life, Mike Bush at St. Paul’s Catholic Church. After 55 years of marriage, Carm lovingly cared for Mike when he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s until his passing in 2006. She invited the love of God to work in and through her life in both her family and her community. Carm was a member of St. Paul the Apostle Catholic Church, serving as a Eucharistic Minister to the homebound and on the Parish Council. Other volunteer work included work at St. Anthony Window serving meals to the homeless, Vineyard of Hope, Birthright, St. Paul’s Grade School and Assumption High School PTA organizations. Carm was also a member of the Catholic Service Board for 25 years, and served as a Girl Scout leader over the years.
Carm and Mike raised funds for the Cystic Fibrosis Organization of the Quad Cities, of which they were founding members. Having two children with Cystic Fibrosis, they understood the importance of support and financial aid to other families suffering from this disease. Stephen Bush, Mike and Carm’s 3rd child, died of Cystic Fibrosis at the age of 8 in 1963. David, their 4th child, passed away in 2020.
Carm’s Catholic faith was an essential part of her life. Despite having two children in a row born with Cystic Fibrosis, Carm had five more children. She continually released her fears to God and accepted the path He chose for her. She went to daily mass and had communion brought to her when she was physically unable to get to her church. It was important to Carm to make time everyday for prayer, which helped her through the difficulties of her life. She prayed the rosary on a daily basis and would often have family rosaries. If a friend of her children happened to be visiting at the house, they instantly became honorary guests at the Bush family rosary. Carm could be heard asking the friend, to their horror, to lead the prayers. Her most precious gift in the last years of her life was an app that had recordings and pictures of her children and grandchildren reciting the rosary. Through the app, a different family member and their children would join her each day in prayer.
Despite her busy schedule, Carm always made time for her family. The cornerstone of Carm’s life was her nine children. She spent countless hours at sporting events agonizing over basketball games, football games and tennis matches. At tennis tournaments, Carm could always be spotted in her folding chair, outside the tennis courts, wearing her white tennis hat, and taking long, nervous drags of her cigarette until the match was finished. Carm taught her family that time is the most valuable commodity we can give our children.
Though Carm’s health was failing for years, few people knew the extent to which she struggled. Her joy for life and indomitable spirit kept her pushing through the pain. No matter how sick she became, she was always determined. Through her, her family knows what faith, resilience and perseverance truly look like.
Carm was the life of the party, with a howling, cackle laugh. She truly loved parties! Carm cherished hosting “happy hour” each evening where she would enjoy her family and her martini. (Sometimes two). Carm faithfully continued her happy hours up to the week of her passing. She loved bragging on her 20 grandchildren and 10 great grandchildren. She would light up when they came to visit. She also loved the tennis channel, which was on day and night in her bedroom. She cheered for the tennis “bad boys”. While she may not have been up to date on current news, she could tell you who made the semi-finals in the Monte Carlo Tournament. Carm lived a long and productive life filled with faith, family and fun. We will miss her.
Carmelita is survived by seven of her nine children. Michael and wife, Kathy, Davenport, and children Kelly, Dan (Megan) and Brendan (Laura); Mary Therese and husband, John Sabine, Dallas, and children John (Karen); Kathleen (Evan McDaniel); Margy, Davenport, and daughter McKara (Zach Theide); Jim and wife, Melody, Dallas, and son Timothy; John and wife, Donna, Davenport and children Ryan, Connor, Sean and Caroline; Anne and husband, Tim Lawler; Minnetonka, MN and children Megan, Matt, Katie and Michael; Bill and wife, Erin, Davenport, and children Thomas (Riley), Bridget, Elizabeth, Megan and Shannon; and son Bob, Dallas.
Carm is survived by her 10 great grandchildren and many nieces and nephews. She is predeceased by her husband Mike, sons Stephen and David, her 8 siblings and her parents Frank and Mamie Gilroy. May they rest in peace. A special thank you to Carm’s daughters Therese Sabine, Anne Lawler and Carm’s friend, Nan Neagle for the many sacrifices made and loving care they gave to Carm in her final years.
Funeral services and Mass of Christian Burial for Carmelita “Carm” Bush will be 1:00 pm Saturday, January 22, 2022 at St. Paul the Apostle Catholic Church, 1007 E. Rusholme, Davenport, IA, 52803. The Mass will be livestreamed by clicking this link : https://www.facebook.com/stpauldisciples Christian burial will be held at Mt. Calvary Cemetery after the funeral.
A visitation where family will greet family and friends will be Friday, January 21, 2022, from 4:00 pm-7:00 pm at the Halligan-McCabe-DeVries Funeral Home, 614 N. Main Street, Davenport, IA, 52803, with the rosary being prayed at 6:45 pm. All are welcome. Due to the current health crisis, masks will be required while attending visitation and funeral services. Memorials may be made to Assumption High School, St. Paul The Apostle Catholic Church and the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.