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Too Sad to be True

I am sorry to interrupt this usually-optimistic blog with a discouraging post. I will be back again with color and cheer but this post must be written.

Robert Busby, owner of Creole Gallery in Lansing, Michigan, was found dead in his building Tuesday. This is too sad for words.

I have known Robert for 20 years. He was one of the classiest, kindest human beings I have ever known. He would go out of his way to greet everyone, and then he would ask thoughtful questions of us all. He would absolutely listen to each reply, never letting his eyes wander.

Sometimes I would go home and realize I never asked him anything in return… he had me answering questions about my own projects. He authentically wished to understand my work, and there was no conversation lag where I might have asked him a few things.

Robert was often called “The Mayor of Old Town” although there really was no such position. Nobody denied his leadership but he never raised his voice and never pushed, never bullied: a pure gentleman. I just loved being in the same room with him, even when he was talking with someone else.

Robert was one of the first to pioneer the renaissance which has happened in that corner of my city. I knew him first (in 1987) through his involvement with Two Doors Down Gallery and after that Otherwise Gallery and currently Creole Gallery… where he arranged the art exhibits and Meegan Holland arranges the concerts. Brian and I have opened for three concerts there over the years.

It is a place where wonderful people gather, where art (visual and performance/music) blossom and thrive. It is a place for community, where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.

My favorite story about Robert is when a mutual friend had moved out of town. She came back to Lansing and wanted to see Robert. He was not where she expected him to be. So she walked up and down Turner Street and Grand River Ave., calling out loud “Robert, where are you?” I don’t remember if she found him that way or not… but it is as likely as anything that she did. (The photo is Turner Street, the largest red brick building houses the Creole.)

Robert, may you rest in peace.

2 Responses to “Too Sad to be True”

  1. Nancy McRay Says:

    Thank you for your remembrances, and expressing your love for Robert. I too am reeling from the awful news.

  2. Rae Says:

    So many are touched by this tragedy. Thank you for the wonderful words. Robert was one of my Dad’s closest friends & I was heart broken to call him last night when I saw the news. But I hope that hearing it from his daughter over the phone was a softer blow than reading it in the morning paper.
    I’ll always remember him best from his birthday party a few years ago when they brought him a huge cake with his picture on the top.

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