Coleen Bush

Coleen Bush

Editor’s Note: A full obituary for Coleen Triplett Bush is inside.

Coleen Triplett Bush, affiliated with the Wilkes County Schools for 50 years as a teacher, administrator and finally as a member of the Wilkes Board of Education from 2004-2012, died in Hickory on Oct. 22. Bush was 84.

Her funeral was Tuesday at the First United Methodist Church of North Wilkesboro with Rev. Jim Sanders, Rev. Steve Snipes and Dr. Steve Laws officiating. Burial followed at Friendship United Methodist Church Cemetery in Watauga County.

Laws was Wilkes school superintendent from 2003, a year before Bush was elected to the Wilkes school board, through 2009.

During the funeral, Laws spoke about Bush’s love of education; her desire to support people in performing their life’s calling; and her remarkable care for those she loved, including so many she hardly knew.

He also used the story of “packing the parachute,” which is about Navy Jet pilot Charles Plumb, to make the metaphorical point that Bush packed his parachute and the parachutes of many others.

Peggy Martin Halsch, who served on the school board with Bush and had a long career as a Wilkes educator, said in an interview that Bush was a “trailblazer in Wilkes” in the education field.

This included becoming the first female principal of a modern school in Wilkes in 1975, when she was named principal at Moravian Falls Elementary School.

“She paved the way for other people,” said Halsch. Bush was the type of person “who just got the job done well” with little fanfare. “I know she tried to do what was right — and to do it with kindness.”

Bush was born and raised in Watauga County and moved back there after her husband died in 1962. A year later, she began teaching fifth grade at North Wilkesboro Elementary School. She soon met the late A.M. “Buster” Bush, who helped coached at North Wilkesboro Elementary School early in his long career as North Wilkesboro recreation director, and they were married in 1965.

Bush taught for nine years at North Wilkesboro Elementary School and later served as a supervisor with the North Wilkesboro City School system. After the city and county schools merged in 1975, she became principal at Moravian Falls Elementary.

She later served at C.C. Wright Elementary School and then finished her career as a principal at Woodward Middle School in 2002. She was elected to the Wilkes school board two years later and served as chairman.

As a principal, she mentored and trained many women and men who went on to become successful in education. She was also the first woman to attend the Principals’ Executive Program at UNC-Chapel Hill.

Bush’s professional honors included Teacher of the Year, President-District 3 Associations of Classroom teachers, President- North Wilkesboro and Wilkes County NCAE, President-Beta Eta Chapter-Delta Kappa Gamma. She was named Wilkes County Principal of the Year three different times.

Bush was a member of the First United Methodist Church in North Wilkesboro. She also was a member of the North Wilkesboro Rotary Club, served on the Wilkes Community Foundation and volunteered at MerleFest.

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