Frederick Stellhorn Bush, 85, a career newspaperman and sailor who taught sailing to hundreds of Lancaster area residents, died on August 18 surrounded by family in Larchmont, NY.
He was the husband of the late Katharine Giering Bush. The couple celebrated their 61st wedding anniversary in 2015.
He retired in 1991 after 30 years as wire editor of the Lancaster New Era.
Born in Newark, NJ on July 3, 1931, he was the son of Robert Spann Cathcart Bush, also a career newspaperman, and Florence Stellhorn Bush, a kindergarten teacher and homemaker.
Fred grew up in Kearny, NJ and graduated in 1949 from Kearny High School. He attended Dartmouth College in Hanover, NH, graduating in 1953 as a history major. During his high school years he was a sports correspondent for the Newark Evening News and Newark Star Ledger. At college he was a correspondent for the Newark News and the Providence Journal in Rhode Island. Summers during his college years were spent as a “copy boy” with the Newark News.
After college, Fred entered Officer Candidate School of the U.S. Coast Guard and upon completion was commissioned an ensign. He served for two years as a deck officer on the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Cactus, a seagoing buoy-tender based in Boston.
He left active duty in 1955, remaining in the Coast Guard Reserve for 22 years, attached to Port Security Reserve Training Units in Troy, NY, Jersey City, NJ, New Bedford, MA and finally Lancaster, PA, as he moved between newspapers during his journalism career. He retired from the Coast Guard in 1976 with the rank of commander.
His first job after Coast Guard active duty was at the Union-Star in Schenectady, NY where he was a general reporter. Next he worked as a reporter for the Bergen Evening Record in Hackensack, NJ and then moved to the Standard-Times New Bedford, MA, where he worked as a reporter, copy editor, assistant city editor and makeup editor.
In 1962 he joined the Lancaster New Era as telegraph-wire editor and copy desk chief. He also often worked Saturday evenings in the sports department of the Sunday News. He considered his most significant journalistic contribution to be working on an “Extra” edition of the New Era when President Kennedy was assassinated in 1963.
Away from the office, his passions were his family, sailing and singing. He married his wife, Kay, in 1954 while in the Coast Guard. The couple then lived in the Brighton section of Boston, and Kay worked as a medical technologist. They had four children: Carolynn, Nancy, William and Robert.
Fred learned to love the water and developed navigational and seamanship skills in the Coast Guard. While working in New Bedford, MA and living in the Buzzards Bay town of Mattapoisett, he began sailing.
After moving to Lancaster he began crewing in Lightning-class sailboat races at the Susquehanna Yacht Club at Long Level and purchased his first Lightning in 1964. In 1992, shortly after retiring from the New Era, the family also purchased a 30-foot cruising sloop, which they kept on the Chesapeake Bay.
In Lightnings, Fred raced at the Susquehanna Yacht Club and in regattas on the Chesapeake Bay. He was a member of the International Lightning Class Association and served as commodore of the Dixie District as well as at the SYC. For more than 40 years, he taught Coast Guard-certified introduction-to-sailing classes.
Fred was active in Lancaster’s chapter of AFS, an international exchange program. His family hosted several foreign students for short and long-term stays. He and Kay participated themselves in an exchange trip between Lancaster and Krefeld, Germany, commemorating the arrival of Germans welcomed by William Penn to settle in Pennsylvania in the 1680s.
Since 1962 he was a member of St. John’s Episcopal Church on Chestnut Street, where he volunteered at the weekly soup kitchen. He served on liturgical and music committees, sang in the choir and served as cantor for many years. His singing career began as a boy soprano in Newark Cathedral. As an adult he sang tenor with the Lancaster Symphony Chorus, Lancaster Chamber Singer, Musica Sacra of Lancaster and Homestead Village Chorus. A particular highlight was singing in the chorus for a performance of Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana at New York’s Carnegie Hall in 1991.
Since moving to Homestead Village in 2004, he served as a Rohrerstown Precinct Democratic Committeeman, penning and distributing the precinct newsletter. He also worked regularly as a Majority Inspector at the Rohrerstown polls in East Hempfield Township.
He is survived by three children and five grandchildren: Carolynn Luby of Carlisle, MA and her husband Jay and their sons Michael and Eric; Nancy Pierson of Larchmont, NY and her husband Frank and their daughters, Abbie Mildenberger, Kristy Pierson and Melissa Pierson; Robert Bush of Wilsonville, OR and his wife Anne Sterling. He is also survived by three great-grandsons. He was predeceased by his wife Kay, a son William and a sister Anne Cathcart Lemp.
A memorial service will be held at St. John’s Episcopal Church, 321 West Chestnut Street, Lancaster, PA 17603 on September 10 at 11 am. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made in his name to the Music Fund of St. John’s Episcopal Church, 321 West Chestnut Street, Lancaster, PA 17603 or to Lancaster Dollars for Higher Learning, P.O. Box 1601, Lancaster, PA 17608.