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Busby donates $80,000 for new Steinway piano

Barry McNamara
07/01/2013
Joyce Busby poses with associate professor of music Ian Moschenross. The college's new Steinway piano will be formally dedicated at Moschenross' recital on Sept. 22.
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The Monmouth College music department will start the coming academic year on a good note—literally—thanks to the gift of a new Steinway concert grand piano by 1947 graduate Joyce Busby of Litchfield, Ill.
 
The instrument, which is valued at approximately $80,000, will arrive by the beginning of September, according to associate professor of music Ian Moschenross. It will be formally dedicated at a Sept. 22  piano recital by Moschenross.
 
Moschenross said that thanks to the gift, he and department colleague Tim Pahel are looking forward to traveling to New York City in August. “Steinway sends you to their factory in Queens,” he explained, “and you tour the factory and see pianos being made.”
 
Moschenross had the opportunity to meet Busby earlier this month and express his gratitude for the gift, which Busby made in honor of her parents, Leland and Ruth Busby. Her father attended Monmouth during the 1921-22 academic year.
 
“I have an abiding interest in good music,” she said. “That’s why I wanted to make a gift to Monmouth College along those lines.”
 
Busby said that her grandmother played the piano and was a music major at Illinois State University. Asked about her own musical talents, she replied, “I took piano as a child in Litchfield, but you’d never know it. I was more of a tomboy.”
 
Busby graduated high school in 1942 and, after working a year, enrolled at Monmouth College in the fall of 1943. As a female, she found herself in the majority of the student body during World War II, although the college was home to Naval cadets during her first two years on campus.
 
“We had fun with the cadets, going to dances on Saturday nights,” she said.
 
Another wartime memory, said Busby, was the “very sedate, prim and proper” Jeannie Grier, wife of President James Grier, becoming “very excited, very out of character” when the Japanese surrendered on Sept. 2, 1945.
 
Busby majored in sociology and was a member of Kappa Delta sorority. When it came time to enter the working world, she used her liberal arts education to find work as an office manager in St. Louis.
 
“I didn’t do justice to my degree in sociology,” she said. “I think it can be said of most liberal arts students that the education prepared you for different things.”
 
Busby spent about half her career in insurance, also serving as a district manager for Avon and working her final 18 years before retirement at the University of Iowa.
 
“On behalf of the students and faculty in the music department, I want to thank Joyce Busby for this incredibly generous and meaningful gift,” said Moschenross. “Both of our current concert instruments are refurbished Steinways originally purchased by the college in the 1920s. Having a brand new, world-class instrument from Steinway will impact students, faculty and guest artists, literally for generations to come.”