Donald Bushaw passed away Jan. 15, 2012, surrounded by his wife and children. He was born in Anacortes, Wash., on May 5, 1926, to Elmond and Ruth Bushaw. Don and his family moved to Bremerton in 1930, when his father took a job at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard.
Don graduated from Bremerton High School in 1943 and entered what was then Washington State College in the fall of 1943, where he met his future wife, Sylvia Lybecker. After one year at Washington State, Don joined the Navy and served in the Pacific. After his discharge, he returned to college in Pullman, where he married Sylvia in 1946 and began a family. Don graduated from Washington State in 1949 with a B.A. in mathematics, and went on to graduate school at Princeton, where he earned his doctorate in mathematics in 1952. His doctoral thesis, under the direction of Solomon Lefschetz, is often cited as the starting point for the modern development of optimal control theory.
Don, with his family, returned to Pullman in 1952 to embark on his teaching career. During a career at WSU which spanned 50 years, Don served as an undergraduate student, mathematics professor, mathematics department chairman, acting director of libraries (twice), and vice provost for instruction. Don did further work on optimal control theory at the Research Institute for Advanced Study in Baltimore (1962-63). Among his many honors at WSU, Don was selected to deliver the Faculty Invited Address (1968). He was the first recipient of the WSU Faculty Excellence Award for Instruction (1983), and also received the Distinguished Service Award from the College of Arts and Sciences (1987) and the College of Sciences 2008 Legacy Award. Don retired from Washington State University in 1993, but continued to live in Pullman until he and Sylvia moved to Portland in the fall of 2010.
In addition to Don's devotion to family and professional activities, he had a passionate lifelong interest in learning languages and in travel, and made many good friends all around the world. He and Sylvia spent a year on an exchange between the National Academy of Sciences and the Polish Academy of Sciences at the Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland (1972-73). In the early 1990s, he spent one month each year for three years in Switzerland studying the Romansch language.
Don is survived by his wife of 65 years, Sylvia, and his sister, Shirley Hansen (Jim) of Gig Harbor. He leaves daughters Amy Bushaw and Margaret Parker of Portland, sons Bruce (Bonnie) of Richland, Gordon (Bonnie) of Silverdale and Tom (Ruth) of Kennewick. He also leaves grandchildren Brice Bushaw, Neal Bushaw, Robert Parker (Maria), Jessica Skoda and Michelle Jacobs (Josh), and his great-grandchildren Abigail and Adam Skoda, and Natalya Parker. A fourth grandson, Andy Bushaw, died in 1988.
A family memorial gathering will be held in Portland.