Who was Archie James Bush?

Mr. Archie James Bush

By Steve Womble – District Structures Maintenance Office

For those who have been with FDOT a good while, there develops this sense of family with many others, and especially those with whom we work over some years.  Well, another one of those “old family members” passed on last December 16, at 95 years; Archie James Bush, sometimes called old “AJB,” or simply Arch.    

 Archie started with the old S.R.D. in the summer of 1962, as a bridge inspector hired by Ben Simpson, at the Temple Terrace Construction Office on Fowler Avenue.  He was assigned by Ben to the chief bridge engineer at that office, Mr. R. R. Roach, and played an important role in the construction of numerous interstate bridges in the Tampa area.  He continued working in Construction until 1974 when he was invited by Ed Burkett to join the recently started Bridge Inspection unit for District 1 (there was no District 7 in those days).  He took the required Bridge Inspector’s course, and after passing the exam, became Certified Bridge Inspector #00023 (at this time there are 554 CBIs in Florida).  After serving the SRD/FDOT for some years, Archie went with KCA in Tampa where he worked until his full retirement.  

 Archie was born in Alamo, Georgia on August 18, 1920, and in 1923 his family moved to Tampa where he grew up, graduating from Hillsborough High School in 1938.  He began his working career as a plumber/pipe-fitter and continued in that field until Uncle Sam called.  He then joined the U. S. Army in 1943 and served in various countries in Europe, being honorably discharged in September, 1947.   While in the Army, he met his future wife in Marseille, France, an English lady named Miss Nora Patricia Lewsey, and they were married in New York City on September 2, 1947.  After his return to Tampa, in 1948 Archie completed their new home on the Hillsborough River where they lived for the remainder of their long lives, having two sons, James and Christian.  His dear wife Nora passed on in 1987.   

Archie stayed busy until near the very end of his journey, being active in church, Meals on Wheels, and keeping up his house and yard.  He was well-liked and respected by all those who knew him, and perhaps his old boss, first at FDOT, then at KCA said it best, regarding Archie:  Ed Burkett said there was “none better, his work concept was constant and very efficient; he was considerate of others; a book could be written about Archie.”  The author of this short item, an old friend of Archie’s going back to 1963, fully agrees with that assessment of this good man; one of the “old school” who lived a life worthy of remembrance.

The current head of the District Structures Maintenance Office (where Archie worked for years) recently said, of those many old 1960s vintage interstate bridges in the Tampa area, that they were well built, which means requiring minimal maintenance, indicative of the men and the materials used in their construction; part of Archie’s legacy to his hometown.