Mary Bernhardt Busko passed away July 24th due to complications from a stroke. She was 52 years old.
Mary was born in Lenoir, North Carolina to Alex and Anne Bernhardt. She was raised by her loving parents in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains with her brother Alex and sister Lillian, along with the warm nurturing of close family friend, Gladys Ferguson, and their extended family. Mary’s childhood was centered around family and church, and it was punctuated by many family camping trips and the sounds of bluegrass music.
Her creativity and entrepreneurial spirit were evident at an early age when she ran the “Neighborhood News”, a local newsletter which informed neighbors of all the good gossip along with some recipe ideas; Mary also cofounded The Three Little Caterers which delivered homemade meals to neighbors. Her love of the outdoors continued to blossom, and as a teenager, Mary completed Outward Bound and National Outdoor Leadership School expeditions.
Mary graduated from Davidson College with a degree in Art History. A talented writer, painter and illustrator, Mary was a self-described bookworm and loved Davidson and its academic rigor. At Davidson, Mary’s ability to connect with people became obvious, and she developed many deep and life-long friendships with fellow students and professors alike.
Always eager to spend time outdoors, after college Mary spent a number of impressionable months working at R Lazy S Ranch in Jackson Hole, Wyoming – a place where decades later Mary would proudly revisit with her family. Mary worked in Charlotte, North Carolina in media sales for five years before pursuing her MBA at the University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business School. While earning her degree, Mary met her classmate, and future husband, Eric.
A more perfect match has never been made. During their wedding ceremony the minister, rather than announce the couple as Mary and Eric Busko, mistakenly announced them as Meric Busko, and that nickname appropriately stuck. Together Meric shared many passions including travel, music, the outdoors, hiking, reading, the Pittsburgh Steelers and their Faith. Undoubtedly, their biggest shared joy was raising, and taking pride in, their two daughters.
They lived in Atlanta, where Mary worked for the Coca-Cola Company as a Marketing Manager for 10 years. Mary’s creativity and ability to genuinely connect with people helped her excel at her job.
Mary left her job to raise her two wonderful daughters, Mae and Harper, who inherited many of Mary’s tremendous qualities. They were also given the gift of Mary’s beautifully blue eyes. Mary raised her girls with her typical gusto and put everything she had into helping shape them into the lovely young ladies they have become.
Mary also selflessly volunteered her time and talents: she worked at Meals on Wheels Atlanta, held multiple volunteer roles at Holy Innocents Episcopal School, and worked with Purposeful Pecans. Mary was an Elder at First Presbyterian Church of Atlanta and was extremely involved in many aspects of the life of the church including teaching children’s Sunday School with her husband for years, leading a Stewardship Campaign, working in several areas of the church’s community ministries and pastoral care programs, teaching Vacation Bible School, and actively participating in Adult Sunday School.
Mary will be remembered for being loving, smart, charismatic, funny, interesting, interested, creative, kind and gracious. She was well known for sending notably thoughtful and witty handwritten thank you notes. Mary enjoyed hostessing with a flair for creativity and humor. Mary had deep love for family and friends, and for making the world a better place. She was a giver and focused on doing for others rather than herself. In her short 52 years on earth, Mary touched and enhanced many, many people. If you knew Mary Busko, you loved Mary Busko.
Mary was a beautiful person inside and out. She was a wonderful daughter, sister, wife, mother and friend. Mary will be profoundly missed.
Mary is survived by her parents, George Alexander Bernhardt, Sr. and Anne Harper Bernhardt, her husband of 22 years, Eric Kendall Busko, her daughters, Mae McPherson Busko and Harper Layne Busko, her brother, George Alexander Bernhardt, Jr. (Tavia) and children Annabella Jean Bernhardt, Elizabeth Banks Bernhardt and George Alexander Bernhardt III, her sister Lillian Bernhardt Sutcliffe (Nick) and children Corinna Bernhardt Sutcliffe and Charles Nicholas Sutcliffe, her mother-in-law, Marjorie Smith Busko, her sister-in-law Lisa Busko Johnson (Mike), and her brother-in-law William Devin Busko II (Morgan) and children Elsa Smith Busko and Sophie Anderson Busko. Mary is predeceased by her father-in-law William Devin Busko.
A funeral service will be held on July 29th at 4PM at First Presbyterian Church of Atlanta. A reception will follow at the family’s home at 435 Cochran Drive, NW, Atlanta.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in memory of Mary Bernhardt Busko to: Meals on Wheels Atlanta, 1705 Commerce Drive NW, Atlanta, Georgia 30318; First Presbyterian Church of Atlanta, Community Ministries programs, 1328 Peachtree Street NE, Atlanta, Georgia 303039; or The Happy Valley Fiddler’s Convention’s Mary Bernhardt Busko Fund, PO Box 186, Patterson, North Carolina 28661.