Robert Franklin Bussabarger died at the age of 90 on Tuesday, January 22, 2013 at Lenoir Woods. He was a retired professor of art at the University of Missouri, Columbia.
The funeral service will be at 11 A.M. Friday January 25, 2013 at Calvary Episcopal Church in Columbia. His ashes will be interred in the Memorial Garden of the Episcopal Church.
Professor Bussabarger was born in Corydon, Indiana on September 17, 1922, the son of Alice Franklin Bussabarger and Russell Bussabarger.
He attended Wittenberg College in Springfield, Ohio and graduated with a B.A. in 1943. At the start of World War II, Robert enlisted in the US Navy and attended officer’s training school in Chicago, Illinois. He graduated as a Lieutenant J.G. and was assigned to duty on an LST in the Pacific. After his discharge from the Navy in 1944, he was married to Mary Louise Sterling in Chicago. He then enrolled on the G.I. bill at Michigan State University in Lansing, Michigan where he received a M.A. in art practice and theory. After teaching art in the Lansing public schools for two years, he studied painting, design, and ceramics at Ohio State University. In 1951, he was hired to teach art at Stephen F. Austin State College, in Nacogdoches, Texas. He accepted a position at the University of Missouri in 1953 to teach ceramics and painting. In 1961, Bussabarger was awarded a Fulbright research grant to study terracotta sculpture and temples in India. He and his family settled in Calcutta in the state of Bengal where he also collaborated with two local artists to produce his own ceramic sculptures and pottery. Over the next few years, he returned to India and continued to produce ceramics which were exhibited in galleries in Mumbai and Calcutta. His work received an enthusiastic response throughout India.
As a result of his travels to India, he co-authored with Betty D. Robins on an illustrated book, published in 1968 by Dover Press, The everyday Arts of India. In later years, he and his wife made several trips to India where they established many lasting friendships and where he was much respected as an artist. In addition to India, the Bussabargers traveled widely in the U.S. and abroad, with Robert never missing the opportunity to visit a museum or make a sketch in one of his many pocket sketch books.
In 1987 Bussabarger was invited by a former graduate student to teach ceramics as a visiting professor at Hanyang University in Seoul, Korea. He and his wife lived in Seoul during the semester he spent at the university. Bussabarger was a producing artist from a young age as well as a much admired teacher. He along with Betty D. Robbins were active in establishing the Columbia Art League where he helped to promote local artists and where he exhibited his own work as well. After his retirement in1990, he remained active in the local art scene and kept in touch with many of his former students. He was invited to exhibit his work at art galleries in the community and through out the U.S. Even though he specialized in ceramic sculpture, he never stopped drawing, pointing and sketching. He carried a sketch book with him to concerts and theater productions so that he could capture the performing artists in action. His love of music prompted him to join the University Choral Union where he and his wife sang together in the annual choral concerts
His other activities and interests included memberships in Mule Skinners and Kiwanis Club. He was also a faithful and long time member of the Calvary Episcopal Church in Columbia.
He was the dear husband of Mary Louise, a devoted father to his children Wendi and David and a beloved grandfather to his grandchildren Courtney and Nathan. He took great pleasure in his great grandchildren Joey, Jimmy, John and Josh. He will be missed by his brothers-in-law, James and Walter and his nieces Laura, Pam and Stacy and his nephew Ed. He will also be missed by his many students and colleagues at the University.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Columbia Art League or the charity of your choice.