the voice of cvg

Ted Bushelman remembers being frightened just once during his childhood. "I was about 5 or 6 and you were pulling my hand through a corn field," Bushelman told his father, Bill, many years later. "We were in a hurry." "Don't you remember...

To list all of the organizations he has served and awards given to him might fill might fill a page. From serving on the Board of the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce to being a member of the Florence Lions Club, they are varied.

Bushelman's been named businessman of the year, citizen of the year and honored by the Northern Kentucky Chamber for his civic service. He's also a past recipient of the Public Relations Society of America's public relations Man of the Year.

His college degrees are as diverse. Bushelman has a degree in education from the University of Cincinnati, a degree in radio and TV production from the Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music and an electrical engineering degree.

He is serving his fourth term on Florence City Council. "I raised five kids in the city of Florence, and I want everyone else to be able to do the same," he says.

From a single terminal in 1947, Bushelman has watched the airport grow into a major international gateway. It now serves as many passengers in one year as it handled in its first two decades. In 2005, the airport peaked at a record 22.8 million passengers and 670 daily departures.

Through all of the changes, Bushelman has been its constant communicator.

"I don't think I have ever received a complaint about Ted," says his current boss, Robert Holscher, the airport's director of aviation since 1975 and one employee who has been at the airport longer than Bushelman. "I respect him for his ability and craft. He keeps the public well-informed."

There have certainly been ups and downs. And several crashes after that first one.

On Nov. 20, 1967, Bushelman had the opportunity to use his newfound PR skills when TWA Flight 128 crashed on approach to the airport, killing 70 out of 82 persons on board.

On Oct. 8, 1979, Comair Flight 444, crashed shortly after killing seven passengers and its pilot.

And what may have been the most remembered, the June 2, 1983, Air Canada Flight 797, that made an emergency landing at Cincinnati after a cabin fire. Twenty-three of the 41 passengers died of smoke inhalation or fire injuries, including Canadian folk singer Stan Rogers. All five crew members survived.

"At one point after a crash I was worried about myself because I had shown no emotion," said Bushlelman. "Then one day, I was walking through the morgue and tripped. I looked down and there was a part of a little doll. I lost it. Then, I felt normal."

Bushelman still tears up as he recounts that moment.

Then he takes a few minutes to take care of some routine business. He returns a call to a local news station. A reporter has heard that a fallen soldier's remains will land at the airport that afternoon. Bushelman has checked it out and determined it is likely a rumor.

"I had a call from a man one day who had lost his false teeth in the men's restroom in Terminal 2," Bushelman says. "I made a call to housekeeping, and they had found his teeth next to the sink."

Bushelman admits there are days he barely sees his wife, Gloria. But he always finds downtime to take her on outings such as with longtime friends Alan and Mary Bernstein.

"Ted is just a genuinely good person," says Bernstein, owner of BB Riverboats. "He's just a great asset to the community. I couldn't want a better friend."

"I made a lot of good friends and matured a lot," Bushelman says of his years on the job.

So when will he retire? He laughs when asked that.

Bushelman said he recently answered some extensive questions on a Web site, and doctors predicted his age of death. "They said based on my answers I will die when I am 86, so I tell people I will retire when I am 85."

That's nearly 15 years away.

But Bushelman says, "After 40 years, the airport is another family. Why leave?"

"I love my job. I am just a guy who is having fun with life."

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