Dr. Richard Bush
13th September 1940 - 29th May 2022
At QEH: 1952 - 1959
Richard was my oldest and best friend. We entered QEH in 1952 as day boys. He was born in September 1940 and he and his parents were lucky to avoid a German bomb which destroyed their house in Eastville. He was the eldest and tallest boy in our form and soon showed that he was very clever, regularly coming top in the exams. He always spoke slowly and deliberately, revealing careful thought. He was modest and had a good sense of humour.
In his mid-teens, he began to like music and he came to my home a couple of times to listen to a few popular classics which complemented my slight preference for Rock and Roll. We laughed a lot, as teenagers do, and talked about everything under the sun. There was also a slowly developing interest in the opposite sex, but as both of us had brothers but no sisters, we had a lot to learn. He chose Maths, Physics and Chemistry for his A levels, and gained the expected distinction in each. With a State scholarship, he proceeded to the Chemistry department of Bristol University, a favourite place for bright OEs, and obtained an Honours degree and PhD. His younger brother Mike later followed the same path from the Cathedral school.
Richard always liked rugby and although he did not make the school team, he was a keen Bristol supporter and while at university enjoyed playing for the OEs 2nd or 3rd teams, at a time when it was the best thing to do on Saturdays. Lifting was unheard of in the lineouts, so his height was welcome. His family had moved to Westbury Lane, Sea Mills, and at a local church youth club he was fortunate to meet Norma and they were married in 1964. I was pleased to attend the church wedding and acted as a sidesman.
His first appointment was to Midland Silicones Ltd. in South Wales, in their research laboratories. He worked there for 11 years. I used to pull his leg and tell him to ‘stop mucking about with the molecules’. However, his work on the development of silicone compounds is still valued and used at Dow Corning, the American company which took over.
In 1975 he joined Harwell Research Establishment and he and Norma had lived in Wantage for 47 years, raising two sons and a daughter, all going on to university. Richard worked in the Environmental Division and became a recognised expert on the control of nuclear waste. He gave evidence at a Parliamentary Committee grappling with the whole thorny subject. He travelled to conferences in Europe and Japan. A funny but true story was that the Japanese leader of a delegation that attended a big meeting at Harwell had a slight problem with our English language and after returning home wrote to Richard …’thank you very much for the excremental visit.’
The sudden death of my friend of over 70 years was a great shock to family and many friends. His funeral was well attended and included many former Harwell colleagues. His younger son Geoffrey gave a moving eulogy. The music of Richard’s favourite composers, Wagner and Mozart, would have pleased him. I will remember our family visits and the fun we had. A hearty Bristolian laugh was always a feature!
Written by Roger Gould (QEH 1952-59).