Memorial Garden Honors 'Mayor of Old Town'

It's been six-and-a-half years since Robert Busby was killed in his art gallery in Old Town Lansing. But you wouldn't know it had been that long by looking around Burchard Park Sunday.

"Not the way the community still loves him and shows up," said Ena Busby, Robert's daughter. "No you wouldn't know it. They're still family and they still think of him and me as family and that means a lot. That's more than I could even put into words."

Busby is credited with helping revive the art scene in Old Town. His popularity earned him the moniker "Mayor of Old Town." In 2007 he was murdered by a 55-year-old handyman who worked in his gallery, who then took his own life.

"He really affected people in a personal way," said Meegan Holland, Busby's significant other for a decade. "When he talked to you he looked you right in the eye, he maybe touched your arm or held your hand. He just made you feel so, comfortable and he made a real connection with everyone he met from a homeless person on the street to Mayor Virg Bernero so he was really beloved on all levels."

Scores of people gathered in the park to pay homage to Busby, planting 400 grasses and other plants, the first phase of a memorial park.

"Robert's spirit is just never going to die," Holland said. "He was a force in this community and you can tell because people on a rainy day turn out to honor him."

At the center of the activity was a new sculpture, created by Busby's friend Maureen Bergquist Gray, meant to reflect the things Busby loved most.

"The sculpture represents people coming together because there's so many distinct items that are combined," said Bergquist Gray. "It seems to me that there is such diversity in the world that the sculpture should be more than one asset or one part and it's joined together. It's just about community."


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