BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Maryland House Speaker Michael Busch died Sunday afternoon after being hospitalized for pneumonia- and condolences poured in throughout the state almost immediately.

Maryland lawmakers remembered Busch as a prominent leader, an educator and an advocate for the state.

Governor Larry Hogan announced shortly after Busch’s death that effectively immediately, Maryland flags will fly at half-staff in honor of his life and legacy.

Busch served as a leader in Annapolis since 1987 when he was elected to represent District 30. He took the gavel as Speaker in 2003.

Busch’s most recent illness comes after two previous health scares. He had a heart bypass surgery last September, and the year before he received a liver transplant from his sister.

Maryland House Speaker Michael Busch Dies At 72

Senate President Mike Miller reacted to Busch’s death in a statement on Facebook.

“My heart is broken for Mike Busch’s family, the State of Maryland, and the Speaker’s extended family – elected officials and staff that he has been a mentor and coach to over his time in public service. Mike has been a friend for years, and has led the state to new heights of environmentalism and education, while ensuring that a new generation of leaders move our state forward. He was a true model of a State Delegate; he cared for every corner of the state, but never forgot about the people he was elected to represent. I will miss him as a friend and partner in state government and I join all the state in mourning his passing,”

Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh called Busch an “exemplar of what public service is all about,”

“I am deeply saddened by the loss of Speaker Mike Busch, a great friend and colleague. Mike and I were elected to the House of Delegates on the same day in 1986. I have treasured his friendship ever since, and the people of Maryland have benefited every day for the past 32+ years from his service and his leadership.

Mike was an exemplar of what public service is about. He was honest, selfless, intelligent and giving. He represents the best that democracy has to offer. Our State owes him a debt of gratitude.

I join many others in sending love and thanks to his family.”

A former St. Mary’s High School teacher and youth coach, Busch is also remembered by Anne Arundel County Schools’ superintendent George Arlotto, who said Busch was an unwavering champion for the children of Anne Arundel County and Maryland.

“As an educator, coach, Recreation and Parks administrator, and legislator, Speaker Busch was an unwavering champion for every single child in Anne Arundel County and in Maryland. He was always a teacher at heart, and neither overlooked nor ever forgot the power of the classroom and those in it to shape and mold the future of this great county and state. He will be deeply missed, but his indelible impact will be felt for generations to come. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family,”

Baltimore Teachers Union President Marietta English applauded Busch’s advocacy for education during his time as House Speaker and an educator.

“I am saddened to hear about the passing of Speaker Michael Busch,” says President Marietta English. “As a former teacher, his advocacy for education will not be forgotten because he understood the needs of educators in Baltimore City and throughout the state of Maryland. Our hearts and thoughts are with the Busch family during this difficult time.”

Acting Mayor Jack Young tweeted out a statement captioned only, “Heartbroken,”

His temporary successor for Baltimore City Council President Sharon Green Middleton also sent out her condolences, calling Busch a “longtime friend of Baltimore City,”

“My heartfelt condolences to the family of Maryland House of Delegates Speaker Michael Busch. A longtime friend of Baltimore City, his distinguished leadership and thoughtful consideration of the city will be missed. His passing is a loss for the entire state of Maryland.”

The Maryland Republican Party released their statement later Sunday evening.

“We are saddened to learn of the passing of Speaker Mike Busch. While we often didn’t agree, he was loved not only by his Democrat colleagues but by Republicans in the General Assembly as well due to his leadership style and caring nature. As the longest-serving House speaker in Maryland history, Mike Busch dedicated his life to serving both the Annapolis community and our state. His impact won’t soon be forgotten. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family during this difficult time.”

Rep. Elijah Cummings, (MD-7th District), said his heart is heavy learning the passing of Busch.

“My heart is heavy today in learning of the passing of Speaker Busch. I was honored to serve alongside Speaker Busch in the House of Delegates, and I came to know him as one of our state’s most thoughtful and dedicated legislators who tirelessly worked for his constituents.  As the longest-serving House of Delegates Speaker in Maryland’s history, Speaker Bush had an immense impact on our state, working to pass legislation to protect our health and the environment. I join my fellow Marylanders in mourning his passing, and my thoughts and prayers are with his family during this difficult time.”

Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md), called Busch a force in Annapolis, leaving a progressive imprint on the state that will last for generations.

“Marylanders are grieving the loss of one of their own today. Mike Busch was a force in Annapolis and he left a progressive imprint on the state that without hyperbole will last for generations. For me, and for Myrna, the loss is intensely personal. We have lost a dear friend and our hearts are broken while we mourn with his wife, his family, and his dedicated staff at the State Capitol.

While we never served together in the House of Delegates, as a former Speaker, I watched Mike Busch’s ascent in Annapolis and saw throughout his career a public servant who put the people he served, his community and his family at the forefront of all he did.

May his memory be a blessing to his family and all of those whom his life touched,”

Sen. Van Hollen said Busch was a “titan of unstinting character,” in his statement released later Sunday afternoon.

“Maryland has lost one of her greatest champions today. And I have lost a dear friend and former colleague. Mike Busch was a titan of unstinting character who served the state he grew up in and did his job for Marylanders with passion, integrity, determination, and exuberance.

As the longest serving Speaker of the Maryland House of Delegates, Mike’s good works can be seen and felt all around us. Under his leadership, we have become a more inclusive and just community with greater opportunity for all. When I served in the Maryland House of Delegates with Mike, many of us would fondly call him “coach.” Not just because his office was packed with photos of him coaching various youth sports teams and his history as a football star, but because he always had a way of bringing out the best in everyone who had the privilege of learning from him. We were all part of Team Maryland.

As a lifelong Marylander, Mike dedicated himself to our state for over 32 years. Even when his health was declining, he was known to walk the halls of the State House whistling and singing. That’s just the type of person he was: full of life even during the most difficult times.

Mike always stood with Maryland. And today, we stand with his family and all of those mourning during this heart-wrenching time. Our prayers and gratitude go out to his wife Cindy, and his daughters during this difficult hour.”

Maryland has lost one of her greatest champions today. And I have lost a dear friend and former colleague. Mike Busch was a titan of unstinting character who served the state he grew up in and did his job for Marylanders with passion, integrity, determination, and exuberance.

As the longest serving Speaker of the Maryland House of Delegates, Mike’s good works can be seen and felt all around us. Under his leadership, we have become a more inclusive and just community with greater opportunity for all. When I served in the Maryland House of Delegates with Mike, many of us would fondly call him “coach.” Not just because his office was packed with photos of him coaching various youth sports teams and his history as a football star, but because he always had a way of bringing out the best in everyone who had the privilege of learning from him. We were all part of Team Maryland.

As a lifelong Marylander, Mike dedicated himself to our state for over 32 years. Even when his health was declining, he was known to walk the halls of the State House whistling and singing. That’s just the type of person he was: full of life even during the most difficult times.

Mike always stood with Maryland. And today, we stand with his family and all of those mourning during this heart-wrenching time. Our prayers and gratitude go out to his wife Cindy, and his daughters during this difficult hour.”

Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-8th District, remembered Busch as a passionate teacher and a servant of Maryland in a tweeted statement Sunday.

Lt. Governor Boyd Rutherford said in his condolences that the House Speaker fought “fearlessly for the issues he cared about,” and offered his condolences to Busch’s family.

UMMS Interim CEO John Ashworth said when Busch spoke, people listened.

“Mr. Busch brought extensive knowledge, wisdom and commitment to the University of Maryland Medical System Board.  When he spoke, people listened. The Speaker was a passionate advocate for the unique mission of UMMS as the state’ academically centered health care system and his expertise, insights and assistance were integral to the plans for the System’s recent expansion into Prince George’s County and the Southern Maryland region.”

County Executives contributed their condolences for the House Speaker’s passing.

Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr. echoed statements of other lawmakers, saying Busch’s legacy will live on for generations.

“On behalf of all Baltimore County residents, I offer my deepest condolences to the Busch family. They remain in our thoughts and prayers during this difficult time. Speaker Busch was a friend, mentor, and leader. His legacy as a dedicated public servant to all of Maryland will live on for generations to come,” Olszewski said.

Howard County Executive Calvin Ball called the House Speaker a dedicated public servant, even through his illnesses.

“Today, Howard County joins those throughout the state in mourning the passing of House Speaker Michael Busch. He dedicated his career in public service to the constituents in his district and residents throughout Maryland. Even with the health challenges he faced during the past few years, he continued his dedication to make our state better.

Those closest to him know the tremendous work he accomplished as the longest-serving Speaker of the House to move Maryland forward on the critical issues of our time, including abolishing the death penalty, promoting marriage equality, raising the minimum wage and improving educational opportunities for all children in Maryland.

We are deeply grateful for his leadership and service to the entire state of Maryland. His legacy will forever be remembered. Please keep his wife and daughters in your prayers during this challenging time,” Ball said.

Harford County Executive Barry Glassman released his statement later Sunday evening.

“Maryland has lost a dedicated public servant who made a lasting impact on the many lives he touched. As a former delegate and chair of the Harford County Delegation, I will always remember how he treated those of us in the minority party with respect and worked with us for the good of all citizens. As the president of MACo, I know firsthand that he supported our efforts on behalf of all counties in the state. Our hearts go out to the Speaker’s family and friends, and to all those he represented in his beloved Anne Arundel County.”  

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