Harold Bush

Date of Birth

March 6th, 1915

Date of Death

July 22nd, 2014

Memorial Meeting

Berkeley Monthly Meeting


Harold Gilbert Bush was born at home on his family's farm in Kent, Iowa on March 6, 1915 to William Weston Bush and Eva Reed Patterson. Tragically, when Harold was eight years old, his father died of appendicitis. His mother Eva moved the family to southern California where they lived for several years.

Harold was a prankster as a child, and later entertained his family with tales of his mischievous deeds. He claimed to have been an innocent bystander when other boys led a cow into the belfry of the one-room schoolhouse and when they dismantled farm equipment and reassembled it on the schoolhouse roof. Many years after it happened Harold told his daughters about the mud ball incident, involving boys, balls of mud and passing cars, again claiming he had been a witness, not a perpetrator. Harold did, however, admit to being a principal in the borrowing of one of his uncle's steers for an impromptu rodeo.

When his mother remarried, the family returned to Iowa, and young Harold took a job helping out at his stepfather's bank. Thus began Harold's career in the financial world, which culminated with his joining the San Francisco accounting firm of John F. Forbes and Company and becoming a certified public accountant. Harold became a partner in the Forbes firm and worked there until his retirement in 1978 at age 63.

Harold met Amy Frantz at the Grand Island Business College in Grand Island, Nebraska in 1934. On their first date, he took her to a movie on a Sunday, considered a sin in Amy's childhood church. Harold and Amy were married in Beatrice, Nebraska on December 12, 1937. They moved to Berkeley in 1939 so that Harold could attend night school at Golden Gate University and work during the day for the U.S. Soil Conservation Service.

Their first daughter, Kathleen Carol, was born in Berkeley on January 15, 1953; and their next, Lisa Elaine, on December 28,1955.

Amy and Harold were attracted to the liberal atmosphere in Berkeley that supported their pacifist beliefs. Even as a young boy, Harold had been baffled by accounts of physical violence, and never understood why grown men tried to resolve their differences through combat. Harold was a conscientious objector during World War II, choosing to serve his country through alternative Civilian Public Service, fighting forest fires while stationed at a Forest Service camp in Glendora, California from 1943 to 1946.

Although some of Harold's relatives were critical of his choice, Amy's family fully supported him. Harold was also warmly supported by many Quakers. For decades, Harold was involved with various peace and social justice organizations, including the American Friends Service Committee and the Friends Committee on National Legislation. Harold joined the Berkeley Friends Meeting on December 18, 2002, when he was 87 years old, after more than 60 years of attendance.

Living in Berkeley opened up new pathways for Harold and Amy. They learned to love classical music and art; and they were able to find like-minded people in anti-war groups and the Berkeley Friends Meeting. The American Friends Service Committee, Pacific Region, was just starting and Harold served on several committees, including the Finance and Executive committees. Amy was active in the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom. In the 1980s, the Physicians for Social Responsibility opened an office in Berkeley, where Harold served as finance officer for four years.

Harold became treasurer for the Pacific Horticultural Foundation. Travelling also enriched their lives. They made six trips to France, enjoying walking in the Alps, one to the Soviet Union.

Harold died at Friends House in Santa Rosa on July 22, 2014, at the age of 99. He is survived by daughters Kathleen and Lisa; his sons-in-law, Christopher Fraser and Christopher Amelotte; and many relatives and friends. Amy, Harold's beloved wife of 76 years, had died in May.

Harold was a devoted family man. He was kind and generous and his relatives and friends could feel his boundless love simply by being in his presence.