Ed Buss, former McHenry County Board chair, died Thursday at age 93

Ed Buss was the second generation to operate McHenry’s Buss Ford dealership

Ed Buss, 93, died on Thursday, Feb. 23, 2023, at his McHenry home, following a long career as a McHenry County leader and operating Buss Ford, the dealership his father started in McHenry.

Edward J. Buss rarely sold a car himself at the dealership he owned in McHenry.

Instead, he would take care of problems, give people a ride home when their cars were being serviced and coach youth baseball, basketball and football, his sons Steve and Bob Buss said in a joint interview Monday.

Buss, 93, died on Thursday at his McHenry home, following a long career as a McHenry County leader and operating Buss Ford, the dealership his father started in McHenry.

“He had his finger in a lot of pies and was really instrumental in McHenry” over those years, McHenry County Historical Society Administrator Kurt Begalka said.

The historical society published a long interview with Buss in its spring 2013 newsletter, Tracer, where he spoke about growing up in McHenry, playing baseball on Sundays, and working jobs as a golf caddy and truck driver.

He took over the family auto dealership, Buss Ford, after his father’s death when he was just 18. His sons, Steve Buss, 67, and Bob Buss, 64, joined the family business in the 1970s. Steve’s son, Drew, now runs the business.

Buss said in a Northwest Herald article in November 1988 that when he started his political life in April 1963, he was just 33 years old and ran as an independent for the McHenry County Board in the early years.

Buss Ford Lincoln in McHenry celebrated its 90th anniversary in 2019. Pictured are (from left) Steve Buss, Drew Buss, McHenry Area Chamber of Commerce Chairman Denny Norton and Ed Buss.

“Party label is not that important to me. The person is,” he said in the Northwest Herald article, noting he voted for Democratic presidential candidates, too.

But after a Republican slate came close to defeating him in the early 1970s, he joined the Republican Party. Buss served on the County Board for 25 years in total, retiring in 1988 after spending the last four as board chair.

Lou Anne Majewski, 92, served on the board from 1976 to 1990. “We didn’t agree on a lot, but it was always polite,” Majewski, a Republican, said this week.

“He enjoyed being the chairman and took it seriously. He was always around and a good chairman,” she said.

Much of those years serving together focused on zoning.

“There were a great many farms that were selling and a lot of development was going on,” she said.

Buss was instrumental in the building of Charles Miller Road and its bridge, according to his obituary. In the Tracer article, he advocated for slow growth, saying, “The longer the growth takes to happen, I think the better it ends up being over a period of years.”

For those who knew him well, it was his quiet support of Little League, his love of sports and his love for the community that stand out.

“He was definitely a personality,” Steve said. “I don’t care what the community involvement was. He was always involved in it.”

Although a Little League field in McHenry is named after him, most of his donations were done quietly. Bob said their father “wanted to do the work and move on.”

Their father also kept working until just weeks before his death, which came three months after the death of their mother, Joan Buss, in November.

“He only made it three months after mom. He died with a broken heart,” Bob said.

He still worked half-days at the dealership until a stroke two weeks before. “We were taking him to work every day, for half days, from 8 a.m. to noon,” Steve said.

Last year for Father’s Day, they went golfing, but injuries kept his sons from playing, they said.

“Dad at 93. He still played 18 holes. That is called determination,” Bob said.

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