Bell Elementary School, Munday, West Virginia, today. Gregg attended this school in the 1970's before it closed around 1980.
Gregg and his grandmother (and aunt) building tree houses and enjoying the West Virginia hills.
Gregg and Mary Beth were respected by their peers and together selected as the Most Dependable in their high school senior class.
Life partners - 1983
First, the bachelor's degree.
The Busch Funeral Home began serving Wirt and surrounding counties in West Virginia in 1986 and quickly became known for its professional, personal, compassionate service throughout the state.
Then came the master's degree.
Finally, the doctorate.
Dr. Gregg Busch, Mary Beth Busch, Nicholas Busch, and Emily Grace Busch-Faulker
A proud native of Appalachia, Gregg's early education began in the one-room schoolhouse which both his mother and grandmother attended in rural West Virginia. Raised by his divorced mother and grandmother, it was among the hills that he learned the value of a simple life, treating people with respect, compassion, and hard work. While his grandmother had only an eighth grade education, her wisdom and appreciation for life long learning far exceeded her years of formal education. She impressed upon him the importance of perseverance, ambition, a love for learning, a sense of adventure, and setting goals as essential qualities for success. He credits much of his success and drive to his grandmother who always believed in him and told him barriers were simply something to work hard to overcome.
At fourteen years old, he began assisting the local funeral home to earn extra money for the purchase of a school jacket and a class ring. What he didn't realize is that the summer job would turn into a passion for serving and helping people at some of the most difficult and challenging times in their lives. That summer, he also began dating a local United Methodist pastor's daughter, Mary Beth Stanley, and, together, they realized a calling to funeral service. Throughout high school, Gregg and Mary Beth assisted the local funeral home and they quickly developed a reputation for attention to detail and compassionate service. Early in their relationship, they set their goals to become married and enter a career in funeral service together. They agreed upon the plan that Gregg would become the licensed funeral director and Mary Beth would support their careers in a non-licensed capacity. But the answers on how to become a funeral director were elusive. He was a first-generation, low-income student from rural Appalachia and his family had little experience with higher education. When Gregg sought advice from the secondary education system, he was told that, because he 'came from a broken home, he was not college material and he would not amount to anything more than an encyclopedia salesman.' Unmoved by the discouragement of local school officials and determined to chase his dream, Gregg sought advice from the local community college where he began as an early admission student. The community college opened the doors to higher education and created the pathway to his career. The community college changed Gregg's life.
At eighteen years old, Gregg and Mary Beth married. Mary Beth worked to support Gregg as he continued his education at the community college and Gregg worked weekends as a physical therapist assistant at a local hospital. Soon Gregg completed his general education and successfully transferred to complete his bachelor's degree in mortuary science. At twenty-one years old, Gregg and Mary Beth founded the Busch Funeral Home in their hometown and this began a successful and fulfilling career that spanned nearly twenty years of serving and helping people. While living upstairs in the funeral home, they raised two children and, at thirty-two years old, Mary Beth began her post-secondary education at the local community college. Soon she was followed by both of their children as early admission students. The local community college was now the gateway for a second generation in the family. By the time their children finished high school, both had nearly two years of college complete and were well on their way to completing their baccalaureate degrees. Mary Beth and each of the children earned their associate of arts degrees at the community college, transferred to complete bachelor's degrees, and ultimately all earned master's degrees ... debt-free and on-time. The Busch family has always credited the community college for their successes and are living examples of how community colleges change lives, open doors, and provide accessible, affordable, and high-quality education.
Their work in a variety of disciplines became recognized and Gregg and Mary Beth became sought after consultants. In 1986, they formed The Busch Professional Group, LLC and today it represents more than 100 consultants in more than ten areas with offices across the United States and serving clients around the world.
In 1996, Gregg entered West Virginia University, School of Medicine and earned his master's degree. This degree complemented his work as the medical examiner/coroner for his home county in West Virginia and in which capacity he served for twenty-one years. In 2000, Gregg's life came full circle when he joined the faculty at the local community college where he first began as a student. His teaching career was distinguished and he proclaims it was some of the most rewarding years of his life. He loved his students and the students returned the respect. In each of his first three years of full-time teaching, he was named professor of the year and he was later named to two distinguished professorship awards and counted among the top 2000 professors worldwide by Cambridge University. In both 2020 and 2021, he was featured in the Global Top 100 Leaders of Education. Like his career in funeral service, Gregg felt his work in community college education was a calling to assist others in the process of their changing lives ... just as he was helped as a young, lost, discouraged student twenty years earlier. He and Mary Beth transitioned from their careers in funeral service to full-time higher education when Mary Beth also became an instructor at the local community college, eventually a dean, and ultimately the Vice President for Workforce Development.
Gregg returned to West Virginia University, College of Education and Human Services and earned a doctorate in education. While at the community college his career evolved as he assumed more and more leadership roles on campus. He became the campus-wide founding director of the honors college, led international education, and ultimately was elected to serve on the college's board of trustees. Eventually, he became an academic dean at two Ohio community colleges and a nationally-renowned expert on community college education, honors colleges, international education, and community college leadership and administration. Gregg's appreciation for diversity and inclusion in addition to his expertise in student success and national work on guided pathways brought him to Tucson, Arizona where he served as a vice president at one of the nation's largest comprehensive community colleges and is a consultant on a wide range of issues facing higher education, student success and access, and became a national content expert for Complete College America and the first State Team Lead for Complete College Arizona which now supports student success for more than 400,000 students across Arizona in more than 20 colleges and universities. Today, he serves as President of Mesalands Community College in Tucumcari, New Mexico. Throughout it all, as his grandmother had stressed, the most important aspect in Gregg's life has been his family. While the odds were heavily stacked against success of 18 year old 'kids' marrying. Mary Beth and Gregg have remained soulmates and life partners for more than 40 years. Their son, Nicholas, earned bachelor's and master's degrees in political science and became a tenured political science professor at a community college in Illinois, has served in all branches and levels of government, is an accomplished political consultant having worked on a number of campaigns including a major leading candidate of the 2008 Presidential campaign. He is a much loved and honored middle school social studies teacher. Gregg and Mary Beth's daughter, Emily Grace, earned her bachelor's degree in health education and wellness and a master's degree in public administration. She is dedicated to public health and serves as a coordinator of infectious disease and epidemiology and married Alex Faulkner, a butcher. Emily Grace and Alex live in Tucson, Arizona. They are the parents of our third adorable grandchild, Althea Rose and Nicholas is the proud father of two amazing children, Gregory (Max) and Harper - the three apples of their Pap's eye. Of the many titles and honors bestowed upon Gregg, he is most proud to be just Pap to his grandchildren. Nicholas and his children currently reside in Oro Valley, Arizona. Today, Gregg jokingly boasts that, had he taken the high school advice to be an encyclopedia salesman, he would have hit very hard times when Wikipedia took over the internet.
Loving my job and enjoying working with wonderful people like Dr. Belle Wheelan, President of Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, with whom I collaborated on dual enrollment through NACEP.
Our extended family includes Guthrie, our Goldendoodle, who is in training as a support dog.
In the Spare Time
He enjoys spending time with family and friends, traveling, hiking the Arizona mountains and desert, and improving his Spanish language skills through exploring the American southwest and northern Mexico. His favorite past times include spoiling the grandchildren, music, culture, and theatre. He enjoys a good laugh, loves to tell big stories, and can usually find the humor in almost anything which may explain why he is also a loyal Cleveland Browns fan.
Max and Harper spending some quality time with Pap as Max's world opens with reading.
He is a self-proclaimed news and technology junkie. His personal interests are closely related to his academic career and include supporting students through barriers to success, Appalachia, humanitarian projects and matters of equality and social justice. He is a life-long learner and particularly inquisitive regarding culture, sociology, and anthropology. This has led to his family's love of travel and resulted in foreign excursions in fourteen countries on three continents.
The Busch family enjoying the sunset over the Arno River in historic Florence, Italy.
Althea Rose excited to learn everything in the big world around her.