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Joseph J. Bush (“The Monkey Man”)

Joe Bush of Cherry Hill, NJ passed away on April 7th 2023, at the age of 81, and 6 months after the passing of his late wife Sally A. Wolk. He is survived by his daughter, Lisa Bush and one grandson, and the late Anthony S. Bush, with 4 grandchildren and 3 great-grandchildren. He is survived by his sister Beverly Coburn, brother Myron Smith and the late Robert Smith. He loved his family greatly and greatly he will be missed.

How do you sum up a life well lived in a few short paragraphs?

He was born in Camden, NJ on August 14, 1941. Joined the U.S. Army as a teen and served in Germany throughout his military service. He came home and settled in Mt. Holly where met his first wife Ethel J. Dudley. His love of softball and music began in Mt. Holly, and lasted throughout his lifetime. As a young man playing the bass guitar, he created a recording studio in his garage and managed his first band "Joyful Noise”. He looked forward to every Monday night for the last 30 years as he opened up his home to anyone who wanted to come over and jam out to some good old classic rock and roll. With his current band, “My Friends Band” he played out in public and jammed with his bandmates up until just a few short weeks ago. He played softball his whole life, as one of the best pitchers in the league up until his early 70’s. He played, coached and managed one softball Championship after another, traveling all of the United States. His travel softball team was named after one of the many businesses he owned called Monkey Joe’s Big Nut Co., which produced the best cashews from Buffalo to southern Maryland.

And lastly but certainly not the least the story of how he became “The Monkey Man”. With his gift of persistence, he became a television news cameraman, which lead to his lifelong career as an Organ Grinder. A man and his handlebar mustache with a monkey and an organ. With a charismatic personality and the ability to command an audience he traveled all over the east coast bringing joy and once in a lifetime experience to the young and the old over the decades. He started out at fairs and parades and became a local celebrity written up in newspapers, magazines and interviewed on the local news. As he perfected his craft, he went on to entertain at the White House, David Letterman, Saturday Night Live, a yearly fixture at Amal and the Night Visitors in N.Y.C., even on the screen at the top of the World Trade Center and a regular at the Showboat Casino for over a decade. He became a SAG member and was in movies, commercials, photo shoots with celebrities like, Selma Hayek, James Lipton, to name a few, he did a music video with 38 Special, his monkeys were in many high fashion photo shoots for magazines. There were so, so, so many jobs over the decades but his last commercial job was a movie called Cabrini, which has not been released yet, shot in Buffalo, N.Y., and a private party in Maryland for an insurance company at a feed the hungry benefit. He absolutely loved what he did, and beamed with pride for all he had accomplished and was heartbroken when he retired his monkeys to the Primate Sanctuary, Inc. in Florida and hung up his costume for the last time in 2022.

Joe Bush was a deeply caring sensitive man, generous to a fault, beyond organized and was so full of energy and positivity, even up to the end. He had a sarcastic sense of humor, he was determined and gregarious, he was a leader and lived life on his terms. He had a very fulfilled life, and leaves behind a legacy of bringing joy to all those he’s come in contact with. To meet him is to never forget him. May your memories of Joe Bush bring comfort to your souls and continue to bring smiles to faces of all who had the pleasure of meeting and knowing him.

Relatives and friends are invited Sunday, April 23, 2023 beginning at 12:30 pm to PLATT MEMORIAL CHAPELS, Inc. 2001 Berlin Road, Cherry Hill, NJ where memorial services will begin promptly at 1:00 pm. In lieu of flowers contributions may be made to the Primate Sanctuary, Inc., 11216 Tamiami Trail North, #206, Naples, Florida 34110

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