Shelley Buschur Celebration
Oct. 9, 2021
written by Jennifer Mathieu Blessington
Our beloved Shelley Lynn Buschur, an artist, activist, nurse, researcher, partner, and sister, died on October 18, 2020 of cancer, and with her passing her indomitable spirit transitioned into treasured memories for her family and countless friends.
Shelley was born on October 9, 1960 in Flint, MI to the late Robert and Nelda Buschur. A member of Flint Central High School’s class of 1977, Shelley later earned several degrees, including an associate degree in nursing from San Jacinto College in Pasadena, TX and a bachelor’s degree in fine arts from the University of Houston. She also completed the nurse midwifery program at Baylor College of Medicine.
Shelley was many things to many people, but all who were lucky to know her could speak of her deep intelligence, expansive creativity, gentle spirit, and a voice and laugh that were hers alone.
Thousands of Houstonians and many others outside of Texas have enjoyed Shelley’s art, perhaps without realizing they were viewing a Shelley Buschur original. A founding member of the Houston Art Car Klub and a major force in the Houston Art Car community, Shelley’s designs earned her multiple awards in the city’s annual Art Car Parade. Her provocative yet whimsical creations, including the Pink Slip and the Make Out Not War cars, were often politically and socially-aware works. Shelley also created several commissioned art car projects for different nonprofits as well as daily driver vehicles for personal use.
Shelley’s big heart led her to share her art with others, including touring her art car creations at the Ronald MacDonald House in Houston and co-founding the Bicycles for Bosnia project with the Orange Show Center for Visionary Art.
Her art often extended to her own hair and body, and many who were lucky to know her will forever remember the fabulous outfits Shelley put together herself. She once attended a wedding-themed fundraiser for a local theater company in a wedding dress that doubled as a serving table with which to pass hors d’oeuvres, and her outfits often matched her art cars. To know Shelley was to know a beautiful, walking work of art.
Shelley had a long and impressive career as a nurse and researcher, working for Baylor College of Medicine at Texas Children’s Hospital in the department of immunology, allergy, and retrovirology with a focus on women and infants with HIV exposure and infection. An HIV/AIDS certified registered nurse and a certified nurse midwife, Shelley was involved in NIH-funded HIV research at Baylor since 1994, and was involved in numerous clinic trials, eventually serving as a study coordinator. Shelley’s passion for improving the care for pregnant women with HIV and their babies earned her the Lagniappe award; lagniappe is a Louisiana French word that means something extra. Certainly, Shelley was deserving of this accolade as she brought that extra bit of energy and compassion to all her work.
A lover of travel both international and domestic, Shelley enjoyed planning trips that she took with her longtime partner Kirk Suddreath. Kirk and Shelley went on their first date in December of 1999 and moved in together in 2001, the two of them dedicated life partners for just short of 21 years. Their home, bought in 2010, is a testament to their art, both as individuals and as a couple. While each nurtured the artist in the other, together they became “KirknShelley.” It’s hard to imagine a more perfect, complementary pair.
After surviving a sudden cardiac arrest in November 2017, Shelley continued her cooking, baking, beer brewing, and epic party hosting. A metal smith and fabricator who could never sit still, Shelly worked to complete another art car in her recovery. While her cancer diagnosis created a final, difficult challenge, Shelley never stopped enjoying life in big and small ways. Her beloved community will never forget her.
Shelley was preceded in death by her parents and her brother Scott Buschur of Houston. She is survived by her longtime partner Kirk Suddreath of Houston, her Michigan family (sister Stephanie Warden of Grand Haven, MI, brother Sean Buschur of Flint, MI, aunts Norma Jean Nattrass and Kay Miron, nephews Robbie and Dylan Buschur, niece Kayla Buschur, grandnieces Olivia, Adalynn, and Alice Buschur, grandnephew Wesley Buschur, and cousins Hope LaFuente and Brett Miron, all of Flint), her aunt Bonnie Cronkhite of Maryland, where Shelley especially enjoyed visiting the Visionary Art Museum, her cousin Barrett Cronkhite of Virginia, and her nephews Chris and Ryan Buschur of Houston.
In lieu of flower or gifts please make a donation in Shelley’s honor to one of the following organizations:
Norma Cooper Adolescent Scholarship Fund
This is a fund that Shelley helped to establish at Texas Children’s Hospital and will be used to host an annual workshop to prepare adolescents and their families on next steps toward their careers.
The Orange Show Center for Visionary Art
The Orange Show Center for Visionary Art is an non-profit 501(c)3 organization based in Houston, TX with a mission to preserve, promote and document visionary art environments, provide opportunities for the expression of personal artistic vision, and create a community where that expression is valued
The Orange Show owns and operates The Orange Show monument, The Beer Can House, and Smither Park, as well as produces the Houston Art Car Parade — the world’s oldest and largest gathering of its kind.