Jessie Bush

Obituary of Jessie Alden Woodwell Bush

Bush, Jessie Alden Woodwell, 96, died peacefully on January 5th at Hospice House, Sun City Center.  She is survived by Archer, her loving husband of more than 66 years.  Fond memories of Jessie will sustain her children, Steven (Sharyn) Bush of St. Augustine, and Anne (Wally) Gehlsen of Tarpon Springs.  Jessie leaves two granddaughters, Jessica Bush of St. Augustine and Kimberly Bush of Jacksonville, and a grandson, Jacob Gehlsen of Tarpon Springs.  A great-granddaughter, “Millie,” lives in St. Augustine.  Six nieces and nephews, and many friends will also miss Jessie.

Jessie was born in Kensington, Maryland on June 1, 1923.  She attended the University of Maryland for a year and then quit so she could earn enough to continue her education at Middlebury College in Vermont, where she achieved her bachelor’s degree in 1945.  She had a job with the National Bureau of Standards in Washington, D.C., but took time off to indulge her adventurous spirit.  She visited her sister in Switzerland and Germany and later, with two friends, toured France, England and Ireland on bicycles.  Jessie enjoyed riding her new Raleigh bike.  She took it on trips to New England and, notably, on a cross-country trip to California.  After exploring a place of interest, she would load her bike in a train’s baggage car and head for the next spot that piqued her interest.  She traveled alone.

On October 31, 1953, Jessie and Arch married and settled in Washington, D.C.  After their children were born, Jessie devoted herself to her family.  When Arch retired and the children had moved away, Jessie and Arch moved to North Carolina’s Outer Banks, where they built a beautiful home designed by Jessie.  In 1989, the couple moved to Winston-Salem, NC, where they lived for 13 happy years.  They moved to Sun City Center in 2002 to be closer to their children.

Jessie was always a strong believer in “giving back” for the advantages life had brought her.  She volunteered for a variety of groups, including school libraries, the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge, and LifePath Hospice.  She worked with the Hillsborough Literacy Council, tutoring adults who wanted to improve their command of English.  She worked with Sew Much Comfort to alter clothing for wounded veterans.

Jessie was a skilled seamstress.  She made quilts for each of her children and grandchildren and for several friends.  Most were hand-sewn, and several were of her own design.  In mid-life, she began lessons in pottery-making and was soon producing items of beauty and usefulness.  She would throw clay onto the spinning wheel, form the object she had in mind, then glaze and fire it.  Jessie was also an avid gardener.  She harvested a variety of nutritious vegetables and herbs.  Her harvests were truly amazing!

Unitarian Universalism has been important to Jessie and Arch from the beginning.  They were married in Washington’s All Souls Church, Unitarian.  They were among the nine founders of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of the Outer Banks.  They were active members of the vibrant UU Fellowship of Winston-Salem and of the UU Fellowship of Sun City Center.

A celebration of Jessie’s life is scheduled for Saturday, January 25th at 2:00 p.m. in the Activities Room of Aston Gardens at the Courtyards, 231 Courtyard Boulevard, Sun City Center, Florida.  In lieu of flowers, donations to LifePath Hospice would be appreciated.  Gifts in Jessie’s name can be made to LifePath Hospice: 12470 Telecom Drive  Tampa, FL  33637 or at

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Celebration of Life

2:00 pm - 3:00 pm
Saturday, January 25, 2020
Activities Room
Aston Gardens at the Courtyards, 231 Courtyard Blvd
Sun City Center, Florida, United States
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