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Remembering Howard J. Busbee ’65, J.D. ’67, M.L.T. ’68, L.H.D. ’22, P ’90, P ’04, G ’21

June 26, 2023
By W&M President Emeritus W. Taylor Reveley III LL.D. ’18, HON ’18

Howard J. Busbee ’65, J.D. ’67, M.L.T. ’68, L.H.D. ’22, P ’90, P ’04, G ’21 and his wife, Mary W. Busbee HON '03, P '90, P '04, G '21, at the Crim Dell in 2017.

Howard J. Busbee ’65, J.D. ’67, M.L.T. ’68, L.H.D. ’22, P ’90, P ’04, G ’21 passed away on May 16, 2023. President Emeritus W. Taylor Reveley III LL.D. ’18 provided this reflection.

A mighty oak has fallen in the groves of William & Mary. We have lost Howard James Busbee.

When he died, Howard and his wife Mary were co-chairing the Robert Boyle Legacy Society. Howard believed in serving his alma mater philanthropically even after his death, just as he served her magnificently in life. The Boyle Society mattered to him.

The great Busbee was pure Green & Gold. He was a William & Mary four-fer, with an undergraduate degree in accounting, a J.D. and a Master of Tax Law from our Law School. Then in 2022, Howard received an honorary doctorate in humane letters from his alma mater. This degree is awarded for exceptional humanitarian and philanthropic contributions to society. Earlier, Howard received the Alumni Medallion, given to William & Mary’s most distinguished graduates, the Law School’s Citizen Lawyer Award, another rare honor given to those who make a serious difference for the better in their communities, states and nation, and the William & Mary Alumni Service Award, for his commitment to the alumni community. Mr. Busbee was one of William & Mary’s most decorated graduates.

After leaving Williamsburg, Howard began a 33-year career at PwC (PricewaterhouseCoopers, LLC). He became a tax partner and leader at PwC, providing exceptional service to its clients, the firm itself and the communities of Lynchburg, Atlanta and Richmond, where the Busbees lived.

It was William & Mary’s great good fortune that Howard, after retiring from PwC, returned to campus in 2001 as an assistant dean at the business school, leading its Masters of Accounting and undergraduate business programs. He later taught in the Raymond A. Mason School of Business and advised freshman thinking about majoring in business. At his death, Busbee was a clinical professor of business emeritus. He had also just completed his last full-time job for William & Mary, serving as interim CEO of our Alumni Association.

Then there is the vast number of boards, committees and ad hoc ventures on which Howard served, often chaired, at the law and business schools and for the university as a whole. The range and magnitude of his volunteer service for the Tribe was astonishing. To mention just those on which he not simply served but also chaired: the W&M Alumni Association, Olde Guarde Council, Robert Boyle Legacy Society, W&M Real Estate Foundation, 50th Reunion Committee, 45th Reunion Gift Committee, W&M Foundation and W&M Tax Conference.

Howard’s smile was his trademark. So were his abiding humility and kindness. These graces, along with his compelling capacity to get things done and his determination that they be done well, made him everyone’s favorite co-conspirator. The cry was often heard in W&M precincts, “Get Howard’s views, ask for his help, we need Busbee!” Truly, Howard was a towering oak in the glades of William & Mary. With great gratitude and fondness, we remember him.

This reflection first appeared in the Boyle Legacy Society newsletter.