Mary Louise Bussabarger died in the early morning hours of September 3, 2022.

Mary Louise (Mary Lou) was born on September 16, 1923 in Chicago, Illinois, USA, the daughter of Joseph and Nellie Wheelen Sterling. During World War II, she worked with the Manhattan Project in the University of Chicago Metallurgical Laboratory. After the war ended, she married Robert (Bob) Bussabarger, a Navy veteran and artist.

In 1952, Mary Louise moved with her husband and two children to Columbia, Missouri, which was her home for sixty-six years.

During her many years in Colombia, she became an active member of her community while earning a Bachelor’s and Master of Arts in English Literature from the University of Missouri. After her degree programs, Mary Louise was a professor of English at the University from 1960 to 1982.

Her community involvements were numerous, including Commissioner of Parks and Recreation for the City of Columbia from 1975 to 1977, President Columbia’s Women’s Political Caucus from 1975 to 1976, and

Co-director of Women’s Place Agency, from 1974 to 1977.

Mary Louise participated in local, state, and national politics as a delegate to the Democratic State Conventions in 1968 and alternate in 1972, member of the Missouri State Women’s Political Caucus Steering Committee from 1972 to 1976, and member of the Steering Committee National National Women’s Political Caucus from 1974 to 1975.

Beginning in 1962, Mary Lou and her husband Bob became world travelers. They then spent many years traveling and living in India where Mary Lou taught English as a foreign language. His love of India and the Indian people was to continue for the rest of his life. During one of her stays in India, she trained as a Yogini and became a yoga teacher from 1962 to 1989 and a beloved guru to many residents of Colombia.

Mary Lou has also found time in her busy life to make a significant contribution to mental health services and awareness. She became a member and president of the Missouri National Alliance for the Mentally Ill, a member of the Planning Council for Development Disabilities from 1990 to 1997, a member of the State Advisory Council for Psychiatric Services from 1985 to 1990, chair of the Boone County Mental Health Board of administration and member of the Governor’s Council for Mental Health.

In 2004, to crown her many accomplishments, Mary Lou had the honor of accepting an invitation to Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government for “Leadership for the 21st Century.”

Mary Louise was predeceased by her husband Robert and Walter and her brother Robert.

She is survived by her children David and Wendi, her grandchildren Courtney and Nathan, her great-grandchildren Joey, Jimmy, John and Josh, her brother James and her nieces and nephew, Stacy, Pam, Laura and Edward.

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Missouri Alliance for Mental Health.

Posted on September 11, 2022

Published in the Columbia Daily Tribune