CORRECTION (9 a.m. Thursday) — This article has been updated with correct information about family. The earlier version was based on incomplete information in an obituary.
ITHACA, N.Y. – The community will come together this weekend to remember Eugenio “Gino” Bush, Jr., who passed away recently and was known for his tireless activism in the community.
Bush passed away peacefully Nov. 18 at Beechtree at the age of 76 and is survived by a wife, two sisters, five children, seven grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren. The memorial will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 9 at the Greater Ithaca Activities Center, located at 301 W. Court St., Ithaca. The memorial service is open to all wishing to mourn Bush’s loss and celebrate his legacy.
Marcia (Fort) Baum, former director of GIAC, said Bush was a dear friend and a pillar of the community.
“His messages were often strong. Sometimes people might have taken exception to that, but the reason his voice was strong, the reason his message was strong, was because he cared so much about this community and the people who live here,” Baum said.
Bush moved to Ithaca in 1980 and quickly became an advocate for racial justice in the community.
The evidence of two projects can be seen on two local streets. He led a campaign to have a portion of West Clinton Avenue renamed Cecil A. Malone Drive, in honor of the local religious and civil rights leader who founded the Bethlehem Church of Jesus Christ. He also spearheaded a push to rename State Street in honor of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., teaching high school mentees to be advocates for social justice in the process and eventually securing a dual-designation for the street.
He established a “Circle of Recovery” program to support black men recovering from addiction and later expanded the program to support boys at Ithaca High School as they learned to navigate racism, classism and adolescent masculinity.
He served on the Community Police Board in the 1990s, speaking out against racism and the use of force in the department while also giving credit to the department for increasing transparency in recent years.
Baum said the memorial service at GIAC will be “an opportunity for those of us who loved him and cared about him to be together, to mourn his loss and celebrate the ways he made our community a better place to live.”
The memorial is supported by GIAC, Southside Community Center, and Alternatives Federal Credit Union, three organizations Bush had close ties to throughout his years in Ithaca.
Featured image: Gino Bush (provided photo)