Howard Busbee

Howard James Busbee, 79, of Richmond, Virginia, passed peacefully on May 16, 2023, with his beloved wife and five children at his bedside.

He is survived by Mary Whitt Busbee, his wife of 57 years, and his five children and their spouses: Howard James (Jay) Busbee Jr., Stephen Whitt Busbee (Valynnda), Andrew David Busbee (Ann), Matthew Brian Busbee (Shannon), and Stacey Busbee Summerfield (Toby), as well as his older brother Irvin (Lisa).

Most notably, Howard’s life and legacy live on in the hearts of his 11 grandchildren: Riley, Vendela, Logan, David, Cadence, Cohen, Hadley, Whitt, James, H.G. and Watson. For all the many honors, accolades, awards and degrees that he achieved, his most important and cherished was the title of Granddad.

Born in Raleigh, North Carolina and raised in Falls Church, Virginia, Howard enrolled at the College of William & Mary in 1961, beginning a connection that would last for six decades. In short order, he earned his undergraduate degree in accounting, his J.D., and his Master of Law and Taxation. He worked for 33 years as a partner at PriceWaterhouseCoopers in Lynchburg, Va.; Atlanta, and Richmond. He returned to William & Mary in 2001, working first in the School of Business and, later, across the entire campus. He chaired committees as diverse as the Alumni Association and the Real Estate Foundation. He worked with Olde Guarde alumni to honor and preserve their memories of the College, and he mentored and inspired incoming freshmen to continue the College’s legacy and secure William & Mary’s future for decades to come.

Howard possessed an accountant’s mind and a romantic soul. He always knew exactly the perfect gift for Mary for every single occasion, and he tracked them all in the little Day Planners he carried with him everywhere. One check meant he’d decided on the gift, and two checks meant he’d bought it. He loved listening to John Denver on his many long drives. He lived his life by simple, timeless, necessary credos: Work hard at whatever you choose to do. Help those less fortunate. Always be kind.

An enthusiastic sportsman and sports fan, he ran marathons throughout the ‘80s, and continued to run in Atlanta’s Fourth of July Peachtree Road Race on into the 2020s. He could hit a golf ball farther than the eye could see and loft a tennis ball into orbit, or so it seemed to his awestruck children. He was a childhood fan of Washington football, and then added new teams as every child and grandchild attended a new college or moved to a new city. His closet swelled with hats and t-shirts from schools and teams in Florida, Georgia, Texas, South Carolina, Virginia, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Colorado, Alabama, Illinois and Tennessee.

Howard loved breakfast meats and North Carolina barbecue, Zero candy bars and corned beef hash. Servers at diners and restaurants knew to bring him a large glass of unsweetened ice tea and a collection of sweeteners, so he could mix his tea just the way he liked it. He always knew how to pick the exact right item on the menu, whether he was looking over a 60-page wine list or a greasy laminated diner sheet. He cherished meals as a time to connect and laugh over good food, and he rarely left the table from one meal without planning where the next one would be.

Of all the many lessons he taught his children and grandchildren, the most significant was this: Think about what happens next. When his children (and, later, grandchildren) were young, he often delivered that line — “Think about what happens next!” — in disbelief after they’d just made a silly mistake. But as they grew into adulthood, each one realized that “Think about what happens next” was a way to live their lives to the fullest, to appreciate this moment and prepare for the next one.

He was an inspiration to his children, a hero to his grandchildren, and a best friend to his beloved wife. He lived his life with empathy, dignity and compassion. And he could make the finest Low Country Boil and Coca-Cola Cake anyone ever tasted.

Howard made sure to end every single one of the dozens of phone calls he made every week to his family with a simple “Love you. Bye!” He believed that if you love someone, you let them know how you feel, every single time.

In the last days of his life, he gathered once more with his wife and five children at their shared home in Pine Mountain, Georgia. They smiled, they laughed, they sang, and at what would be their last dinner together as a family, they raised a glass to the wonderful world Howard and Mary had created, and the beautiful life they all shared.

Love you, Granddad. Bye.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that contributions be made to the Howard and Mary Busbee Family Endowment (5175) to provide support for first-generation college students at the College of William & Mary,

William & Mary
Alma Mater

by James Southall Wilson (1904)

Hark! the students’ voices swelling
Strong and true and clear.
Alma Mater’s love they’re telling,
Ringing far and near.

William & Mary loved of old
Hark upon the gale,
Hear the thunder of our chorus
Alma Mater – Hail.

All thy sons are faithful to thee,
Through their college days,
Singing loud from hearts that love thee,
Alma Mater’s praise.

Iron-shod or golden-sandaled
Shall the years go by
Yet our hearts shall weave about thee
Love that cannot die.

God, our Father, hear our voices
Listen to our cry;
Bless the college of our fathers,
Let her never die.