Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Robert Busby: Old Town's Magical Mayor

**Update - There will be a candlelight vigil tonight at 6pm (not 7 as previously reported) on Turner Street in Old Town between Grand River and Clinton St. if you have any questions, please email me or check the LSJ for further updates. **

Just one week ago, I stood and marveled at the beauty and growth of Lansing's Old Town with one of my favorite people, Robert Busby. That day, we were laughing about a piece in Lansing's City Pulse that featured Robert's art. As the owner of the magical Creole Gallery, I usually saw Robert about once a week and we always shared a smile, a laugh, and a hug.

Today, I learned that Robert has tragically left us.

Robert was a friend, a mentor, and a legend. His light was so bright that I know that even with his passing, it can never be completely extinguished.

My soul aches, my heart breaks, and I join hundreds and thousands of others who weep for Lansing's gentle spirit who touched so many.

In my deep grief, I'm going to share with you the words that the Old Town Commercial Association has shared
Everyone in Old Town and around Lansing knows Robert as the 'Mayor of Old Town.' His Creole Gallery is known as a venue that features the most incredible artists in and intimate settings that are not available elsewhere.

But Robert is known for a great deal more than his gallery. His love for Old Town truly defies comparison. Many years ago, Robert took an amazing risk. He purchased property and dedicated his passion to making Old Town an arts and entertainment area.

At that time, Old Town had a dangerous and well deserved reputation. Robert’s faith, heart, and incredible tenacity paid off. He made Old Town his home, the site of his business, and made his life about creating the lovely place that Old Town is today. Retailers and residents of Old Town are shocked and devastated. Some have been quoted as saying “These things don’t happen in Old Town, because Robert made this a place that we felt safe. We are a family.”

In life, it is very rare to meet so lovely a man. Our hope is that Robert’s dream continues, and that this city comes to appreciate and love Old Town like he has.

You will be deeply missed, but never forgotten.


Anonymous said...

thank you so much for posting this.

Mensch71 said...

I'm so glad that I had the chance to know Robert and am heartbroken and angry about his murder. The Mayor of Old Town is dead. Where do we go from here?

Anonymous said...

Robert--such a gentle soul, soft spoken, with a ready smile, a man of principles who lent a hand to the downtrodden, for he had been there at one time.

Cathleen said...

I am so sorry for your loss, and for Lansing's loss.

I could tell by talking with him those brief moments last month that he cared a great deal for artists and for his community. I'm very glad I got the chance to meet him. Thank you for that opportunity- he was a very special man.

Take care dear- write if you need to talk-

farlane said...

I only spoke with him a couple of times but it was clear that he was a man who really cared about those around him and used his business to make a difference in their lives.

A worthy man indeed.

LiberalLucy said...

There's only one way we can go. We must go on and up. The task that Robert finished is not completed. While his death is tragic, we can not let one single, senseless act destroy all that he gave.

We owe it to Robert and our city to continue on.

Sam said...

I've known Robert for 30 years. You're right, Lucy; we have to continue his vision. We owe it to him, and those whose lives were made more bright by his presence.

But right now, all I want to do is sit down and weep.

Anonymous said...

I remember when organissimo played the Gallery last fall. As I walked in with my guitar and bag, Robert saw me, smiled, and said, "Welcome Home!" Can't believe that voice has been violently taken from us.

I really hope we don't lose the Creole, and I hope Meegan knows how much we love her. We'll all stick together and do the work before us, but I'm afraid it will be that much more of an uphill battle without Robert's leading light.

Thanks Jules.

~Joe Gloss

Anonymous said...

Though I only met Mr. Busby on two occasions, I am very close to his only daughter. She has been a family friend for years. Robert seemed like one of the sweetest men on earth. I pray that his daughter and everyone else close to him is able to remember all the great things he did and allow his love to live forever. God bless everyone affected by this ordeal.

Chris said...

I've just today learned of Robert's passing, and crushed to learn the circumstances. It's been several years since I've seen Buzz, as I moved away from Michigan, but I knew him throughout the 80's, in his pioneering days in Old Town and he was just the sweetest, greatest guy. His Two Doors Down gallery was the center of my artistic and social universe and his presence there was very special. Bless you, Robert.