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The Front Row with JASON ELLIOTT June 26, 2010

| June 26, 2010 9:00 PM

He left the Montana Grizzlies as the school’s all-time sack leader with 34.5 in his four-year career.

He was also a Division I-AA football national champion in his time in Missoula and second-team All-American his senior year.

But when you ask people about Timothy Allen Bush, a 1999 graduate of Kellogg High School, he was best remembered as a hard-working family man that always had a smile on his face.

BUSH DIED in a mining accident last Friday at the Galena Mine, just outside of Silverton, cutting short the life of a man who was about to embark on the next phase of his life.

After his playing days had came to an end, Bush came back to his home in the Silver Valley and began working at the mine as a contractor for United Mine Services.

Bush, who played on the defensive line, also holds the Montana record with 50 tackles for loss, helping the team finish with a 15-1 record and the 2001 national championship in his sophomore season.

Montana was 48-9 in the four seasons Bush played in Missoula, including two unbeaten seasons in the Big Sky Conference and only three conference losses while at Montana.

Bush was named second-team I-AA All-American his senior season, the first under coach Bobby Hauck. He was later named to the Griz’s all-decade team.

“I remember him walking off the field for the last time during our high school careers,” said John Godwin, also a 1999 Kellogg graduate and fellow starting linebacker with the Wildcats. “I distinctly remember Tim saying, ‘I am not done playing football.’ Everyone within an earshot knew he was destined for great things and had no doubt that Tim would excel at the collegiate level.”

HIS WORK ethic was one that eventually earned him a spot on the starting defensive line at Montana.

“To be at 190 pounds coming out of high school, I would have never imagined he’d turn into a 240-pound All-American,” former Kellogg High School athletic director Ralph Lowe said. “He was an amazing young man. Early in high school, I didn’t think he’d be a college ball player. I would have never guessed he’d turn into the player he was.”

Kellogg assistant football coach Tim Kimberling started as a position coach in 1995 in Bush’s freshman season with the Wildcats.

“He was 110 pounds as a freshman,” Kimberling said. “I asked coach (Shawn) Amos if this kid could play linebacker for us.”

Kimberling had just moved to the area and was not familiar with the members of the team.

“I didn’t know just what kind of player he was,” Kimberling said. “Shawn was exactly right. Tim turned into a two-way starter for us. He turned into a very physical player for us.”

After his senior year concluded, the coaching staff at Kellogg was trying to get Bush recruited as a tight end. That was until he opted to go Montana as a walk-on.

“We thought he’d be a good tight end at the college level,” Kimberling said. “Thank goodness the coaches at Montana were smarter than I was and moved him to the defensive line.”

By his senior year, Bush had earned a full-ride scholarship from Montana.

Kimberling recalled some games during the ’98 season that showed Bush’s work ethic.

“He was just as happy to be blocking as a tight end as catching the ball,” Kimberling said. “He drilled a guy halfway across the field against Priest River and when he came off the field, he couldn’t stop smiling. He had a lot of fun playing the game.”

Bush was a two-time All-Intermountain League and all-state honoree during his time at Kellogg.

Kimberling, who became Kellogg’s head coach in 1998 — Bush’s senior year — heard from his former player after the Grizzlies lost in the national title game Bush’s freshman year.

“He called after the game and was kind of disappointed they’d lost,” Kimberling said. “He told me he didn’t get to play much. I told him that most people don’t even see the field. The following year, he turns around, starts and they win the dang thing.”

KIMBERLING ATTENDED some Montana football games when his schedule allowed during Bush’s tenure, including the game when he set both records for sacks and tackles for loss.

Godwin recalled a play Bush made during their senior season in which he holds as his favorite memory of Kellogg football. It came in a game between the Wildcats and Orofino at Teeters Field in Kellogg.

“Orofino had pushed us back within just a few yards of the goal line,” Godwin said. “When the ball was snapped, Tim instantly knew they were going to make a short pass across the middle. He had a jump on the ball and made a spectacular interception, weaved his way through several would-be tacklers and cruised past the goal line approximately 95 yards from where he started.”

Kimberling instituted the “Rock Squad,” with members being honored for a big hit in a game and receiving a painted rock.

“Tim had quite the collections of rocks in his locker showing homage to his performance on the field,” Godwin said.

“Someone came up with the idea to emphasize to be physical on the football field,” Kimberling said. “We found a rock, painted it purple and everyone that had a big hit had their name put on it.”

Inaugural inductees are immortalized on a big purple rock in the Kellogg High trophy case in front of Andrews Gymnasium.

“Tim and John were the first couple of guys on that list,” Kimberling said. “We went to a camp at Coeur d’Alene that Shawn was putting on and the drill wasn’t going well. We put John and Tim in to show them how to be physical.”

JOE PEAK, who runs the Kellogg chain crew during home football games, as well as organizes the Youth Basketball League in the Kellogg area, has fond memories of Bush.

“He was a leader above all,” Peak said. “Tim had athletic ability in everything he did. What stood out to me was his ability as a wrestler.”

As a wrestler, Bush never won a state title, but according to Peak, could have followed the same path in wrestling as he did in football.

“He was a quality leader, very competitive,” Peak said. “Then again, Tim was probably competitive at Tiddlywinks.”

“If you’re paid for the amount of rock you’re breaking,” Peak said. “it’s just as competitive as playing sports. But what a great teacher he had in his father, Kenny. They’re a close family.”

Of the records at Montana, former Kellogg superintentent Greg Godwin said those records weren’t what drove Bush to compete.

“That was just another job to do for him,” Godwin said. “He didn’t need all those accolades. Tim set a goal to be involved with football after high school. Him going there showed his good work ethic. He set his mind to it and got it done.”

Bush was just beginning to work with some younger athletes in the Kellogg area, coaching wrestlers in the Kellogg USA Wrestling Club alongside his younger brother, James.

“I’d talked to him about getting him back to help on the football field,” Kimberling said. “He’d been working pretty regular hours and didn’t have the time. It would have been nice to go through because he’d probably loved to have given back to the community.”

Bush will be eligible for the Montana Hall of Fame in 2013, but Peak suggested the school waive the 10-year waiting period following graduation.

Kimberling said it was too early to say how Kellogg will honor Bush.

Bush’s death was felt during the annual Ride the Wall bike ride, a fundraiser for the Silver Valley Habitat for Humanity on Monday as riders wore special signs dedicating the ride to Bush.

ON FRIDAY morning Bush’s family, friends and fans came to Andrews Gymnasium to celebrate his life during a public funeral service.

Just as Bush would have wanted, nearly half of the estimated 1,300 were dressed in Montana gear.

Following the service, many tears were shed and thoughts were shared — about the man whose smile on the field made him easy to recognize.

And for opposing quarterbacks in the Big Sky Conference — the one who gave them nightmares.

Jason Elliott is a sports writer for the Coeur d’Alene Press. He can be reached via telephone at 664-8176, Ext. 2020 or via e-mail at

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