Robert H. Bush was a shy, private man, but his son, Nicolaas, was his biggest inspiration and motivation.
Rob, 49, was three months into working for the Homer Fire Department. Firefighter Bush became ill at a training session on a Saturday morning, October 19, 2019. Medical assistance was immediately initiated by members of the department, and he was transported to the local hospital, Guthrie Cortland Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.
Rob is originally from Truxton, where he grew up until his family moved to Homer in his late teenage years. Rob volunteered, cooking for many chicken barbecues and church steak suppers. After 21 years of service, he became a board member for the Cortland County Junior Fair in 2017. He was a great help to his father, who has been fair manager since the early 1980s.
Rob’s inspiration to join the department came from his son, who was a member of the Warner Fire Department in Onondaga County and was thinking about joining the Homer Fire Department. We believe that was his way of encouraging Nicolaas to stay the course and follow through, and in the process of doing that he really wanted to provide a service to the community. He loved helping people, especially the elderly. He also had a huge spot in his heart for his great niece, Josefene.
Homer Fire Chief Mahlon Irish said, although Rob was shy, he made it a point to come into the station as much as he could and talk to the firefighters. He was eager to learn, and he was doing whatever he could to better himself. Being a firefighter was something he wanted to do.
The father and son were so close, they even graduated from Tompkins Cortland Community College together in 2019, Rob with a degree in business, while his son, Nicolaas, got a degree in computer support. “That was one of his proudest moments,” his mom said. “It’s something that all of his family was proud of him for doing.”
Robert Bush is survived by his son, Nicolaas, of Homer; parents, Martha and Dick Bush, of Homer; brother, Jeff, and wife, Luci Bush; his ex-wife, Kara Ptak; and several nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his brothers, Brian and Timothy Bush.