Whether he was donating flowers to churches and local seniors or putting together the floral arrangements for the inaugurations of Presidents Regan and Bush, florist and business owner James LaGree Bussey II was always giving back and building on his legacy for generations after him. He died on Monday, May 12.
“Flowers can do so much. Through flowers, we were able to uplift people’s spirits and help so many other black people set up not only florist businesses, but all sorts of businesses in the community,” said Alice White-Bussey, who founded Bussey Florist with her husband. “My husband was a pioneer and community activist that was decades before his time. He will be greatly missed because he got along with and was loved deeply by both sides of the family.”
Mr. Bussey and his wife set up their first flower shop more than 50 years ago and never looked back.
Through the power of flowers, the Busseys were able to travel to Brussels, Belgium, the Netherlands, London, England, all the Caribbean islands, Brazil and the Ivory Coast to spread their wealth of knowledge in business and show people how to set up floral arrangements for large gatherings and parties.
Mr. Bussey was inspired to become a businessman while in high school. He set up his first business as a florist when he was a freshman at Morehouse College in Atlanta. He became the first black Florists’ Trans world Deliverer or FTD florist in Atlanta in 1984.
Mr. Bussey participated in a number of organizations including the International Florist Association, Metro Atlanta Florist Delivery Co-op, Samuel Jones Boys and Girls Club, DeKalb County Council on Aging, and the DeKalb County Mental Health Board. He also helped create the first black trade mission hosted by the Atlanta Business League, led by then Ambassador Andrew Young.
Mr. Bussey was a lifetime faithful member of the A.M. E. Church. As a teen, he served as church secretary and later became president of the choir. He was known by many members to place flowers on the altar each Sunday. He was recognized for his faithful service with a cornerstone laid at the church.
Mr. Bussey was the co-founder of the Atlanta Philharmonic Chorale and sponsored other gospel groups such as the “Conley Specials,” James Hightower and the Gospel Specials.
Mr. Bussey was preceded in death by his father, the late James R. Bussey and his mother, the late Florrie Mae Davis.
Mr. Bussey leaves to cherish his memories a loving wife Alice White-Bussey; sons, Thaddius Prez and Rudolph,III; daughter, Alicia Yvette (Roderick) Lowe; brothers, Kenneth Donald Sr. (Bernice), Glen Rudolph, and Timothy (Marian); sisters, Doris Jean (Ronald), Constance Carita (Jerome), Marilyn Eilene, and Barbara (Ether);grandchildren, Thaddius Prez, II, Jamese Rylee Lowe and Casey Elyse Lowe; and a host of nieces, nephews and special loved ones.
Funeral services will be held for James LaGree Bussey, II on Saturday, May 17, 11 a.m. at First A.M.E Church, 2046 Richard Allen Lane, Atlanta. A musical will be held in Mr. Bussey’s honor on Friday, May 16, 7 p.m. at the church.
Donald Trimble Mortuary, Inc., is handling funeral arrangements.