Top senior essayist meets benefactor: Bill Dunn

In this day of electronic communication, it’s rare that a scholarship winner gets to meet face-to-face with his or her benefactor. But that happened in August, when FFRF essayist Benjamin Todd met fellow freethinker and Texan Herbert Bushong, who endowed the scholarship. Both live in San Antonio.

There was some urgency in the timing of the get-together, since Benjamin had to head off to Virginia to attend the University of Richmond, where, he learned, Herbert had taken night classes as a young man in the 1930s. (Another coincidence: Benjamin’s dad, James, and Herbert are Kentucky natives.)

“I was very glad to get the chance to thank my benefactor in person, and it was great to see freethought stretch across generational gaps,” Benjamin said afterward.

The meeting was facilitated by FFRF member Nick Lee, who is president of the Freethinkers Association of Central Texas (FACT) in San Antonio.

After growing up in Kentucky, Herbert went to live with relatives in Richmond, where he worked in an insurance company office and attended night school. He enlisted in the Army Air Corps and was trained as a radar-jamming technician. He stayed in the military after World War II and picked up college credits wherever he was assigned. He earned a B.S. in English from Ohio University and was certified to teach.

After earning a master’s degree from the University of Kentucky, he continued to teach high school English. Loss of his hearing made him give up that career.  While traveling through Texas and Mexico, a friend offered Mrs. Bushong a job managing a group of condominiums on South Padre Island. Herbert worked as a maintenance man on the property.

Due to Mrs. Bushong’s health, they relocated to San Antonio in the early 1990s to be near Air Force medical facilities. Since her death, Herbert has continued to live in the house they bought here. He celebrated his 94th birthday this year.

Foundation Lifetime Member Herbert Bushong (seated), endower of the FFRF high school essay competition, meets Benjamin Todd (left), the first-place winner and Herbert Bushong Scholar. At right is James Todd, Benjamin’s father.

Freedom From Religion Foundation