TBDBITL Alumni Club

The Best Damn Band In The Land - The Ohio State University Marching Band Alumni

Milan Gordon Busta

November 10, 1924 - September 26, 2021

Milan Gordon Busta, age 96, passed away on September 26. He was born November 10, 1924 to Charles and Marie (Krejci) Busta, the eighth of their eight children. Five of his brothers and sisters lived to adulthood - Lillian, Mildred, Adeline, Charles, and Larry.

His parents were immigrants from Bohemia, arriving as children with their families and reuniting with relatives who had preceded them. They came to America for economic and social opportunity and found employment and a supportive Czech community in Cleveland. His father knew Czech and German; his mother, Czech and Polish. On his birth certificate he was listed as Miloslav; to his family and as enrolled in school, he was Milan; and starting in childhood, to friends of his own age, he was known as Mike. His parents had a total of 15 brothers and sisters. Fourteen married Americans of Bohemian ethnicity and Milan had more than 90 first cousins.

He grew up during the Great Depression, and determined to provide for himself, starting with a newspaper route when he was 12. As he recently recalled, "the paper was 18 cents a week and my cost was 13 cents. Fifty papers at five cents profit made me an entrepreneur. I found that Saturday afternoon was the best time to collect. Everyone was baking – houska, koacky, and listy. The Bohemian mothers offered a taste. I came home with powdered sugar all over me."

He attended St. John Nepomucene School through eighth grade in large classes – one with 48 students – which were, as he recalled, well-disciplined by nuns. For high school, he chose John Hay for its commercial curriculum, graduating in 1942. Music was a passion and a source of income – he played clarinet and saxophone in the high school orchestra and organized a three-piece combo to play in bars on Friday and Saturday nights.

After high school he started work in an industrial shop, but soon began attending classes at John Carroll University. He enrolled at Ohio State University in 1943. He was President of his fraternity, Delta Chi, and played in the Ohio State Marching Band.

From 1948 through 1957, during the baby boom after World War II, he was a home builder. With his accounting and business background from college, he organized a business with his father and his brother, Charles Busta and Sons, and then continued after his father's retirement as Busta Brothers. Buying single lots at sheriff's sales, they built 130 houses throughout the Cleveland suburbs, many in Parma.

He met his wife, Jeanne Cervenka, when his sister Mildred married her uncle, William Stepka. They knew each other at family gatherings and he was her date at her high school prom. They married when they were 24, on January 15, 1949. They had three children, Michael (1950), William (1951), and Paul (1953) – three boys in 2 and a half years.

He built his final home for his own family in Brecksville in 1957 and started a new career as an accountant at Basic, Inc. in Cleveland. He rapidly advanced through Basic's subsidiaries, as Secretary-Treasurer of Tiger Brands, then as Treasurer of Regulus. In 1963 he became the Vice-President and Treasurer of Union Financial Corporation and in the following two decades held a series of successive positions in that company, leading to being named President and CEO of its principal holding, Union Savings Association in 1974. During the time he was associated with Union Savings, it grew from 5 to 22 offices.

He continued his education at Indiana University Graduate School of Savings and Loan (1971), and was a participant in Leadership Cleveland class of 1979.

In 1980 he moved to Stuart, Florida, as a developer of residential properties Pelican's Landing and Glenwood Condominiums. In later years he was called upon by the Federal Home Loan Bank to stabilize and evaluate stressed savings institutions, as President of American Savings and Loan Association in Knoxville, Tennessee and President of Community Federal Savings and Loan in Hamilton, Ohio.

Milan loved to be with people, to work with other people to build and serve the communities in which he lived. He gravitated toward and accepted positions of responsibility. As a young adult he was President of the Parma Junior Chamber of Commerce. For decades he was a member of the Lakewood-Rocky River Rotary Club, and, for a term, as its President. He served on many Boards which reflected the wide range of his interests, including Gardeners of Greater Cleveland, where he helped establish a scholarship program for horticultural students; on the board of Saint Augustine Manor, a nursing and extended care facility; of Cleveland Music School Settlement, which provides music training and experience to Clevelanders East and West; of Business Advisors of Cleveland, where retired executives counsel and advise people who build new businesses; and was on the founding board of Neighborhood Housing Services of Cleveland. He was a member of the Cleveland Athletic Club and the Westwood Country Club.

As he retired from an active business life, he identified as an investor, watching his assets carefully, His guiding principles were prudence and income. He examined corporate balance sheets as if they were statements of moral fiber. At the end of his life he said that what he treasured most was a gift from his parents – his Catholic faith.

Milan was a member of the marching band from 1944 through 1946. He played clarinet.