Wilkes’ education ‘pioneer’ has passed away | New


Editor’s Note: A complete Coleen Triplett Bush obituary can be found inside.

Coleen Triplett Bush, affiliated with Wilkes County Schools for 50 years as a teacher, administrator and finally a member of the Wilkes Board of Education from 2004 to 2012, died in Hickory on October 22. Bush was 84.

Her funeral was held Tuesday at the First United Methodist Church in North Wilkesboro with Reverend Jim Sanders, Reverend Steve Snipes and Dr. Steve Laws officiating. Interment followed at the Friendship United Methodist Church cemetery in Watauga County.

Laws was Principal of Wilkes School from 2003, a year before Bush was elected to Wilkes School Board, until 2009.

During the funeral, Laws spoke of Bush’s love for education; his desire to support people in fulfilling their lifelong vocation; and her remarkable care for those she loved, including those she barely knew.

He also used the “parachute wrapping” story, which involves Navy Jet pilot Charles Plumb, to metaphorically argue that Bush packed his parachute and the parachutes of many others.

Peggy Martin Halsch, who served on the school board with Bush and had a long career as a Wilkes educator, said in an interview that Bush was a “Wilkes pioneer” in the field of education.

This included becoming the first female principal of a modern school in Wilkes in 1975, when she was appointed principal of Moravian Falls Primary School.

“She paved the way for other people,” Halsch said. Bush was the type of person “who just does a job well done” with little fanfare. “I know she tried to do the right thing – and to do it with kindness.”

Bush was born and raised in Watauga County and returned there after her husband’s death in 1962. A year later, she began teaching fifth grade at North Wilkesboro Elementary School. She quickly met the late AM “Buster” Bush, who helped coach at North Wilkesboro Elementary School early in his long career as North Wilkesboro recreation director, and they married in 1965.

Bush taught for nine years at North Wilkesboro Elementary School and later served as North Wilkesboro Town School System Supervisor. After the city and county schools merged in 1975, she became principal of Moravian Falls Elementary School.

She then served at CC Wright Elementary School, then ended her career as Principal of Woodward Middle School in 2002. She was elected to the Wilkes School Board two years later and served as its president.

As a director, she has mentored and trained many successful women and men in education. She was also the first woman to participate in the Principal’s Program at UNC-Chapel Hill.

Bush’s professional honors included Teacher of the Year, President-District 3 Class Teacher Associations, President-North Wilkesboro and Wilkes County NCAE, President-Beta Eta Chapter-Delta Kappa Gamma. She has been named Wilkes County Manager of the Year three times.

Bush was a member of the First United Methodist Church in North Wilkesboro. She was also a member of the North Wilkesboro Rotary Club, served on the Wilkes Community Foundation and volunteered at MerleFest.

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