Wingate mourns professor

Apr. 25, 2013 @ 05:05 PM

Wingate University lost a major campus figure Tuesday. 

Professor Nancy Bush, an assistant professor of marketing at Wingate, died at 9:35 a.m. from an apparent heart attack while working with a student in her office, according to a statement from the university.

Bush, 66, had been a professor at the college since 2004. She took a great interest in her students, attending all of their sporting events, in spite of her disinterest in sports, helping each student and even becoming ordained online in order to perform weddings for some of her former students at their request. In 2006, Bush received the Wingate Spirit Award, awarded by her colleagues.

Within moments of the announcement on Facebook, numerous students and alumni expressed their sadness and left their condolences.

“Dr. Bush was one of the most committed and caring professors I’ve ever worked with, and I know she meant so much to each and every student she connected with, and to the Wingate community. She will be sorely missed but never forgotten,” Student Sarah Hyde posted under the announcement on Facebook.

Other students noted that she was the best professor they ever had and a “loved lady.” One student commented that he felt like he had a guardian angel in his corner.

A world traveler, Bush had been to all 50 states and almost every continent. She had not been to Africa, but was planning to visit over the summer.

Joe Graham, dean of the Porter B. Byrum School of Business, hired Bush back in 2004. 

“She was a beloved figure to her students,” Graham said. “She cared deeply for her students.” 

Graham said she would advise them and kept in touch with many of them through Facebook and social media. The campus was somber Tuesday as the news spread. 

“It was a pretty emotional scene as the students were finding out about it,” Graham said. “There were a number of students who were visibly, visibly shaken...I’m sure that feeling, that shock, is still on campus.”

Graham said they are numbed and shocked at this point, while they try to process the loss. Graham has met with her classes and is also working out how to find gradebooks and get through until the end of the semester.

Her involvement with her students will be her legacy, Graham said. 

“If she has a legacy, it would just be that she deeply, deeply loved her students and they knew it. They understood that,” Graham said. 

Graham remembered the hiring process when Bush joined the faculty in 2004. He said there were three resumes that rose to the top of the pack and two were local. Bush was out in California at the time. They invited Bush to see the campus and to meet them. 

“Once she came here and we got to know her, we decided we didn’t need to talk to anyone else,” Graham said. “We felt like we had found our match and she felt the same way.”

“We cared deeply about her and we’ll miss her,” he said.

There will be a service Saturday, April 27 at 3 p.m. on the patio and lawn at the Stegall building on Wingate’s campus. In case of rain, it will be in Cuddy Arena. All Wingate University faculty, staff, students and alumni are invited. 

It will be informal and attendees are encouraged to bring a chair or a blanket to sit on the lawn. Bush’s request is that attendants dress comfortably and not wear black or navy blue.