Mrs. Coleen Triplett Bush, 84 of North Wilkesboro, N.C., passed away Friday, October 22, 2021 in Hickory.
Funeral services were held at 1 p.m. on Tuesday, October 26, 2021 at the First United Methodist Church of North Wilkesboro with the Rev. Jim Sanders, the Rev. Steve Snipes, and Dr. Steve Laws officiating. The family received friends at the church from 11:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m., prior to the services. Burial followed at Friendship United Methodist Church Cemetery in Watauga County.
Mrs. Bush was born June 4, 1937 in Watauga County to Don Monroe and Erie Storie Triplett. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree from Appalachian State University in 1960. Her graduate degrees include a Master of Education and an Educational Specialist also from Appalachian.
Bush moved with her husband and infant daughter, Vanessa, to Bermuda in 1960 where she taught preschool at the U.S. Naval Base for two years. After her husband’s sudden death in 1962, she moved back to Watauga County. In 1963, she began teaching fifth grade at North Wilkesboro Elementary. The next year, she was moved to the seventh and eighth grades as a math teacher. She married A.M. “Buster” Bush in 1965. Buster helped coach at North Wilkesboro Elementary School and Coleen helped with the recreation league teams in North Wilkesboro where Buster served as Recreation Director for the town.
Bush dedicated 50 years in service to the students, parents and teachers of Wilkes County in four capacities. Bush taught for nine years at North Wilkesboro Elementary School and later served as a supervisor with the North Wilkesboro City School system. After the city and county schools merged in 1975, she became the first female principal in Wilkes County at Moravian Falls Elementary School. She later served at C.C. Wright Elementary School and then finished her career as a principal at Woodward Middle School in 2002. After retiring from the Wilkes County School system, she was elected to the Wilkes County Board of Education where she served for ten years. She touched the lives of hundreds of Wilkes County children with the philosophy “that you get exactly what you expect.” She always expected the best of all her students and staff. Bush was able to call every one of her students by name, and she knew where they lived.
During Bush’s principal tenure, she mentored and trained many women and men who went on to become successful school leaders both in and out of Wilkes County. Many assistant principals who worked with Mrs. Bush went on to be principals, assistant/associate superintendents, superintendents and other leaders in educational venues. She was also the first woman to attend the Principals’ Executive Program at UNC-Chapel Hill.
Bush’s professional honors include Teacher of the Year, President-District 3 Associations of Classroom teachers, President- North Wilkesboro and Wilkes County NCAE, President-Beta Eta Chapter-Delta Kappa Gamma. She was named Wilkes County Principal of the Year three different times. Other activities include Lifetime Member North Carolina Association of Educators, National Educators’ Association, Member of North Carolina Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, Member of North Carolina Association of School Administrators, and Secretary and Treasurer of North Carolina Principals and Assistant Principals Benefit Fund.
She was a member of the North Wilkesboro Rotary Club, has served on the Wilkes Community Foundation and volunteered at MerleFest.
Bush was a member of the First United Methodist Church in North Wilkesboro.
In addition to her parents, she was preceded in death by her husband, A.M. “Buster” Bush; a son in-law, Ted Hawkins; one sister, Kathleen Triplett Kitchen; and four brothers, Allen Triplett, Kenneth Triplett, Harold Triplett, and Melvin Triplett.
Mrs. Bush is survived by one daughter, Vanessa Hawkins (Timothy R. Jones) of Hickory; two grandchildren, Madison Taylor Hawkins (Christopher T. Hourihan) of Charleston, SC, and McKenzie Leigh Hawkins (Kirkland R. Jones) of Winston Salem; two sisters, Arlene Triplett Kilby of Wilmington, and Marlene Triplett Bentley (Charles) of Wilmington; and two brothers, Steve Triplett (Jenny) of Dobson, and J.C. Triplett (Caren) of Clayton. Mrs. Bush is also survived by numerous friends, family, and loved ones.
The family requests that everyone attending the service to wear a face covering.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Samaritan’s Kitchen of Wilkes Back Pack Program PO Box 1072 Wilkesboro, NC 28697
Online condolences may be made at www.reinssturdivant.com