Betsey Bush, left, and her stepdaughter Sarah Nuckolls at the opening of the Knoxville Symphony Show House in 2012. Sarah spoke at Betsey’s funeral yesterday.
If you had wanted to merge together all the arts organizations in Knoxville, you could have taken a vote on it yesterday at the memorial service for philanthropist and community enthusiast Betsey Bush.
Leaders of all the major institutions were there at Second Presbyterian Church, from the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra, the Knoxville Opera and the Knoxville Museum of Art to garden and history lovers of every stripe. Betsey loved and supported them all. Nine musicians from the Knoxville Symphony performed during the hour-long service, as did Brenda Goslee on the magnificent Condon Bush Memorial Organ, which Betsey funded after her late husband, canning magnate Condon Bush, passed away in 2003.
“She was all in,” said Rev. Dr. William R. Barron from the pulpit. “She was one of God’s most special servants.”
Betsey Bush and Sarah Nuckolls at the Green Thumb Gala, benefiting the Knoxville Botanical Garden, in 2011.
Her stepdaughter Sarah Nuckolls spoke of the impact Betsey had on her sister, Rachel, and her. “I am a different person because of Betsey,” she said, mentioning that both she and her sister now are stepmothers themselves. “My sister and I both learned the art of raising another woman’s children from Betsey,” she said.
A review of the Blue Streak from its beginning in 2009 until now demonstrates Betsey Bush’s deep immersion in the community and its cultural organizations. She will be missed at every upcoming gathering.
Click here for a story in the News Sentinel about Betsey’s passing.
My all time favorite picture of Betsey! She had just tasted a dirty martini featuring a “liquid olive” at a 2016 Summer Supper benefiting Knox Heritage at John Trotter’s historic home.
Betsey gets a hug from Cindi DeBusk earlier this year during a fundraiser at Blackberry Farm for the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra.
Actor John Cullum, left, with Betsey and Mary and Rick Johnson at R.T. Lodge in 2015 at a benefit for Clarence Brown Theatre.
Two garden lovers. Betsey and former University of Tennessee-Knoxville Chancellor Jimmy Cheek in his west Knoxville garden at a dinner benefiting the Knoxville Botanical Garden.
At that same event, from left, Sandra Butler, Jackie Wilson, Ilene Cheek and Betsey.
Jim Haslam and Betsey in 2013 at the home of Caesar and Dorothy Stair for a party benefiting the Knoxville Botanical Garden.
Betsey and Vicki Williams Baumgartner at that same event.
Betsey with violin star Rachel Barton Pine at a 2010 Knoxville Symphony League Elegant Dining event in Betsey’s home.
Joan Cronan, left, and Cheryl Massingale with Betsey at Evening Under the Stars benefiting the Knoxville Jazz Orchestra at Sherri Lee’s house in 2013.
Lee Ley, left, and Jane Creed with Betsey in 2012 at an Elegant Dining event at Betsey’s house.
From left, Betsey, Daniel Meyer, Mary Persin and Rachel Ford at that same party.
Dorothy Stair and Betsey at last year’s Green Thumb Gala at the Knoxville Botanical Garden.
Betsey and Sherri Lee at the East Tennessee History Center for a 2013 surprise party for the unveiling of a portrait of Natalie Haslam.
Betsey with Sandi Burdick at last year’s Hats in Bloom event at the Knoxville Botanical Garden.
Betsey with Rick and Mary Johnson last year at a Knoxville Symphony League Elegant Dining event at the home of Randy and Jenny Boyd.
Caroline Smith and Betsey at last year’s Evening Under the Stars at Sherri Lee’s house benefiting the Knoxville Jazz Orchestra.
Betsey with Dr. Michelle Brewer at the 2013 Summer Solstice Supper at the Knoxville Botanical Garden.
Betsey with Barbara Arant, center, and Mary Johnson at the 2015 Blackberry Farm event benefiting the Knoxville Symphony.
Betsey with Suzanne Carriere, center, and Jody Rash at the Knoxville Symphony League annual luncheon last year.
The pansies in her brooch look so real because they WERE!
Betsey with Angela Pugh at a party at Nazzy and Hash Hashemian’s house last year benefiting Random Acts of Flowers.
Betsey, in front, exploring Savage Garden in Fountain City with Sandra Butler in 2013. Behind them are Jennie and Bert Ritchie.
Betsey with Brian Campbell of the Knoxville Botanical Garden at that same event, which benefited the Botanical Garden.
Love those purses! That’s what Mintha Roach, left, Sherri Lee and Betsey were discussing at 2013’s Symphony in the Park benefiting Ijams Nature Center.
From left, Betsey, Dr. Michelle Brewer, Jackie Wilson, Sarah Nielson and Mary Johnson at the same event.
Betsey, left, with Woody Besozzi and Carol Beilharz at the 2015 Opera Ball at the Knoxville Museum of Art.
From left, Sheila and Chris Hill, Michael Combs, Cathy Hill, Mary Johnson, Mark Hill and Betsey at a 2013 party at Kreis Beall’s home benefiting the Knoxville Botanical Garden.
From left, Lane Hays, Jackie Wilson and Betsey at the 2015 Great Gardens Party benefiting the Knoxville Botanical Garden. It was held at Chip and Jeanie Johnson’s house at the very end of Houser Road.
Ladies in black. From left, Mary Johnson, Ann Furrow and Betsey at Blackberry Farm in 2014 for a Knoxville Symphony fundraiser.
Betsey with Jack and Sara Rose at the University of Tennessee Gardens benefit in 2014.
From left, Janet Testerman Crossley, Caroline Smith and Betsey at 2015’s Evening Under the Stars at Sherri Lee’s house.
Betsey with Sherri Lee at a 2012 party Sherri hosted to benefit the Knoxville Botanical Garden.
Betsey with John and Sandra Butler at the 2015 Symphony Ball at Cherokee Country Club.
Betsey with Diana Samples, center, and Willene Chalmers at a 2012 party benefiting Knox Heritage at Westwood.
Betsey with Jackie Wilson, center, and Jeanine Brogan at a 2011 Elegant Dining event at Karen and Harvey White’s house.
Betsey at the 2012 Opera Ball.
From left, Jane Venable, Betsey, Sandra Butler, Donie Green and Stacy Moody at the 2013 Opera Ball.
Joan and Victor Ashe present Betsey with a “garden lady” statue they bought in Poland. The occasion was a 2011 party Betsey hosted at her home for donors to the Knoxville Botanical Garden.
Here’s Betsey with John and Sandra Butler at the same party.
From left, Mary Johnson, Betsey, Rick Johnson, Toni Lawler, Gary Sperl and Jon Lawler at a 2012 party at former Knoxville Symphony Music Director Lucas Richman’s home to celebrate the start of the season.