Janet Bush died at home in Seattle, WA on August 14, 2023 at the age of 80. Throughout her life, Janet embodied a cheerful positivity, as well as a calm wisdom, and she cherished her relationships with family, friends and community.
Born in southeastern Minnesota in 1943, her family moved to Salem, Oregon, in 1948 where she spent her childhood and school years. Her parents were both school teachers, and Janet’s family spent summers taking road trips to North Dakota and Minnesota to visit relatives.
She attended University of Oregon where she received a degree in English. During the summer after Janet’s sophomore year at University of Oregon, she was working as a nurse's aid at Salem Memorial Hospital when she met a charming, young radiology technician named William Bush, Jr (Bill). The couple married two years later in 1965 and shared 58 years of marriage together. During their early years as a couple, they lived first in Portland, Oregon and then in Poplar, Montana where Janet worked as a teacher. In Montana, Janet and Bill had two horses which provided wonderful times riding the country-side, trail-rides, sleeping under the stars with their horses snuffling nearby. After Bill’s residency in radiology in Seattle, they moved to Hamburg, Germany where Bill completed his fellowship and Janet worked as a receptionist in the radiology office. She also taught English at a language school there. They loved their years living in Europe and maintained close friendships with the people they met during those years, making many visits over the next decades after moving back to the states.
After returning from Germany, they settled in their home in Seattle on Queen Anne, where they would spend the next 48 years and raise their family. After living in a small urban apartment in Hamburg, they had few possessions when they bought their home. Janet met someone who was moving onto a sailboat and needed somewhere to store his Baldwin grand piano. Janet offered to store it for him and then ultimately bought it for their home where it became a centerpiece of the living room. Janet took piano lessons during those early years in their home and practiced daily. She loved classical music and hosted house concerts. She enjoyed singing and was a member of the church choir at Queen Anne Lutheran Church and later joined the Seattle Shores, a women’s barbershop chorus.
Janet also loved gardening and they had many fruit trees and beautiful flowers in their garden. Her home was warm and welcoming, and she hosted many gatherings large and small for family, dear friends and beloved neighbors. She was known for her delicious baked goods - perfect star-shaped shortbread cookies and delicious fruit cobblers and pies (often made from marionberries which originated from Marion County Oregon where she grew up). She was often called upon for her Scandinavian baking and cooking skills - lefse and rommegrot were yearly holiday treats and she often made the festive many-tiered kransekake for special events such as weddings, anniversaries or baptisms. She maintained a strong connection to her Scandinavian heritage and she made many trips over the years to visit cousins and family farms in Sweden and Norway, including a special final trip in 2015 with family.
Her final years were marked by a slow progression into Alzheimer’s dementia; she was fortunate to be able to remain at home, with Bill by her side, thanks to her wonderful in-home caregivers Mary, Mary, Rose and Eunice.
Janet was survived by her husband Bill, who passed away one month and one day after she died. She was preceded in death by her parents and her sister-in-law Susan Epley. She is survived by her daughters Anne Bush (Jennifer Magnani), of Seattle, Washington; Jane Harris (Colin Harris), of Minneapolis, Minnesota; her granddaughter Estelle Harris; her brother John Stanley Sather and her brother-in-law Ken Epley.
Donations can be made in her memory to the Alzheimer’s Association.
Janet Bush was such a sweet lady. Always upbeat and welcoming - a truly lovely soul. Her home was the rehearsal venue for many barbershop quartets and, speaking from experience, when quartets are getting started, it's like watching sausage being made. Their home had wonderful acoustics and she never flinched when the sound of four notes that didn't belong together bounced around her lovely living room. She was often called upon to be a test audience for whichever quartet Bill was practicing with and that smile never left her face regardless of where the group was in its development.
Janet and Bill Bush were a perfect match - loving, intelligent, down-to-earth and optimistic. Bon voyage, Janet.
We met Janet and Bill through Janet's lovely parents, Alf and Edith, celebrating our Norwegian heritage at their home in Salem. After moving to Washington, we reconnected with them on occasional visits to Seattle, where we shared recipes and books, and enjoyed their incomparable hospitality. On a visit to Alf at Bayview, we paused to savor the bouquet of a large camellia in the foyer and remarked how very lovely it was. Shortly after our arrival home in Yakima, a beautiful potted camellia came to our door, complements of Janet and Bill. It succumbed to hard weather after a few years, but its white daphne cousin thrives by our patio still, reminding us of Janet and Bill and how they always made others' lives a bit sweeter.
Helga and John Staffan
Your parents were such wonderful people! Lost to us way, way too early. Both of them always so cheerful, so interested in others, such members of the community and congregation. Janet's lefse recipe is penciled on a scrap of paper I had handy when she dictated it to me. And I always chuckled when I saw that it was Bill who had reviewed my mammogram. Your grandfather Sather---I can see where Janet got her smile from! When he moved to Queen Anne, I often saw him on Sundays, and he reminded me of a cheerful elf. Once at Holden Village I met someone who had known your grandparents and she spoke of how welcoming they were to newcomers at their congregation there.
Janet était cette personne si généreuse et aimante accueillant pour deux mois une jeune adolescente qu'elle ne connaissait pas. Elle était prête à aller acheter pour elle et sa fille Jane, un poulet rôti à 22h le soir pour préparer leur pique -nique du lendemain ! Elle transmettait son goût des petits moments précieux du quotidien et de la cuisine. Je me rappelle ce tea Time avec des petits biscuits sucrés sur un plateau argenté à étages !! Merveilleux moment. Love Janet.