George Bushnell Dies; ABA President 

George Bushnell Dies; ABA President 
Posted by CN Staff on August 09, 2002 at 21:34:07 PT
By Adam Bernstein, Washington Post Staff Writer
Source: Washington Post 
George E. Bushnell Jr., 77, a former president of several national lawyers groups, including the American Bar Association, whose polished pedigree belied a wickedly blunt take on drugs, race relations and the law, died of kidney failure Aug. 7 at a hospital in Grosse Pointe, Mich.Mr. Bushnell, son of a Michigan Supreme Court chief justice, became a senior partner of a prestigious Detroit firm. He held leaderships posts within the ABA, the largest voluntary legal association in the country, and was president in 1994 and '95.
"Bush," as friends called him, was outwardly conservative, well-tailored and had soft, white hair. But his words were more surprising, including heavy criticism of lawmakers and calls for the legalization of all drugs.In a Washington Post profile, a colleague described him as a "liberal curmudgeon."His comments were peppered with borderline obscenities, and he took the unusual tack of granting an interview to Rolling Stone magazine to disclose his personal views about drug laws. He said federal regulation of marijuana and crack cocaine would reduce profits for the street sellers and crime by users.One member of the ABA governing board said his drug statements were "damaging the credibility of lawyers." Mr. Bushnell said he was largely unconcerned with the image of the trade and said lawyers should stand "at the forefront of social change.Several members of the House of Representatives called for his resignation after Mr. Bushnell described those opposed to federal funding of the Legal Services Corp., which aides the poor, as "reptilian bastards."Despite such polarizing remarks, he often worked the machinery of the ABA to find consensus on issues such as broadening gun-control laws. Colleagues said he seldom took credit for his successes, preferring to recognize others or the larger debate for any change.After his ABA term ended, he returned to his native Detroit to practice law.He remained active in the ABA House of Delegates, its policymaking body, and continued to speak out when he felt his peers were being deferential to political correctness.In 1997, as the ABA debated how forthright to be on legal issues with social and political ramifications, he compared the group to Willy Loman, the central character in the Arthur Miller play "Death of a Salesman.""Willy Loman devoted his entire career to being well-liked," he said. "He lost his job, his family, his life, but he was well-liked. And I hope Willy Loman doesn't become the patron saint of the American Bar Association."George Edward Bushnell was a 1948 graduate of Amherst College and a 1951 graduate of the University of Michigan law school.He was an Army veteran of World War II and saw combat during the Korean conflict. His decorations included the Bronze Star and the Army Commendation Medal.He was a senior partner in the Detroit law firm of Miller, Canfield, Paddock & Stone before starting his own firm in 1977. At his death, he was of counsel to Roy, Shecter & Vocht in Bloomfield Hills, Mich.He was a board member of the Detroit NAACP in the 1960s and helped start an urban coalition to rebuild the city after race riots."I set an example for the other honkies . . . about treating people who are different with courtesy," he told The Post.He said he chose his always-subdued wardrobe so critics, especially in the heated days of the civil rights struggle, could not portray him as some crazed anarchist. "Protective coloration," he called his garb.He was a former president of the National Conference of Bar Presidents and the Association of Trial Attorneys of America. He was a former director of the American Arbitration Association.He was a former general assembly commissioner of what is now the Presbyterian Church USA and a board president of its policy making group.His wife, Elizabeth Whelden Bushnell, whom he married in 1950, died in 1996.Survivors include three children, George E. Bushnell III of New York, Christopher G.W. Bushnell of Madison, Conn., and Robina B. Hogan of Ipswich, Mass.; and eight grandchildren.Source: Washington Post (DC)Author: Adam Bernstein, Washington Post Staff WriterPublished: Saturday, August 10, 2002; Page B06 Copyright: 2002 The Washington Post Company Contact: letterstoed washpost.comWebsite: Related Articles:ABA President Supports Decriminalizing Drugs On Drugs Repeats Mistakes of Prohibition
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Comment #5 posted by FoM on September 12, 2002 at 09:04:59 PT
Thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings. I'm glad to know that you believe your Father is smiling now. That makes me smile too. God Bless.
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Comment #4 posted by Ethan Russo MD on September 12, 2002 at 08:45:50 PT:
Thanks, Robin
It was so nice of you to take the time to express your sentiments in this forum. Many of us here feel like a persecuted minority, and are most grateful for the support of anyone, particularly a person of stature and courageous convictions, such as your father.We hope that you will feel confident to continue to speak out against injustice in the same spirit he manifested.
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Comment #3 posted by Robin Hogan on September 12, 2002 at 08:41:13 PT:
George Bushnell
In searching for information and articles on my father to save for my brothers and our children, I came across the Washington Post obit posted on your website. It would give my dad great pleasure and joy to know that his death was newsworthy enough to make it to this site. He fought hard for justice and the rights of all, and he believed that just as Prohibition was a failed experiment, all drugs should be legalized in order to better help those whose addictions had gotten the better of them. He will be deeply missed not only by his family and friends, but especially by those who have very few to fight for them. Again, many thanks. I know he's smiling right now. (As an aside, when Dad did the interveiw for Rolling Stone, his only regret was that the magazine was no longer sold in brown paper and hidden below the counter in stores!)
George Bushnell Dies; ABA President
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Comment #2 posted by FoM on August 09, 2002 at 21:46:46 PT
You're welcome. I think you are fortunate that you meant a person who was a visionary for reform way before most people even gave it much thought. He will Rest in Peace.
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Comment #1 posted by el_toonces on August 09, 2002 at 21:41:23 PT:
I am proud to say I knew George from many State Bar activities and admired him greatly. He's the only "Bush" I think I ever respected. Despite his age, this is still a great loss to the local legal community.Thanks for posting this, FoM.
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