Beaumont businessman, art supporter Carlo Busceme III dies at age 65
The Southeast Texas arts community lost one of its biggest supporters when Carlo Busceme III died Sept. 22. He was a musician, artist and businessman whose greatest gift was the ability to be curious and open to everyone who met him.
It would be easy to fill this magazine with stories from friends, but there is only so much room, As those who knew him meet at upcoming art openings, symphony concerts, philanthropic fundraisers, the anecdotes will fly — hopefully, with many smiles that reflect the joy Carlo brought to the community.
“He is amiability,” his brother Greg, founder and director of The Art Studio, says, insisting on using present tense. “Somebody said, ‘He was such a nice guy,’ but no, he is a nice guy. He continues to be a nice guy. He won’t stop being a nice guy, he just won’t be a nice guy with us.
“It makes me feel better to keep him in present tense. Of course, I know at some point I will talk about him in past tense, but as long as we hold him in our heart he will always be there.”
Carlo was a devout Catholic, but was someone who was open to all ideas and philosophies, which made him a great conversationalist.
“He saw a common connection with everything in a lot of ways,” Greg says. “Although he was a devoted Catholic, he was always kind of like a devoted Catholic with an asterisk, saying, ‘But, it doesn’t mean everything else isn’t right, too. What will we see? I don’t know, but I’m going to go to church and do my thing because that’s what I do.’”
There is a lot of laughing when Greg talks about his brother, as there is when any of Carlo’s friends and even casual acquaintances talk about him.
“He also was curious — he kept his mind open,” Greg says. “I think that was the most fun we had. He’d talk about politics and religion. He was a fiscal conservative and social liberal — he wanted everybody to be treated right. He saw unfairness on both sides of things.”
Greg says Carlo saw solutions in a practical manner — he was methodical that way.
“I would be like, ‘This is the way it should be,’ and he’d be like, ‘Let me explain why it can’t,’ and I’d be like, ‘Oh, OK,’” Greg says, acting like the younger brother being schooled by an older, wiser sibling, which is exactly the case.
“He was my explainer. When I was 5 or so. He’d say, ‘This is Christmas,’ and I’d be like, ‘Really? I’ve seen all this stuff.’ Or he’d be like, ‘This is Halloween. We’re going to dress in weird clothes and mom and dad are going to take us around places and they are going to give us a bunch of candy,’ and I’d be, ‘Oh, cool.’ Christmas, candy. Easter, candy. Everything is candy. And I was 5 years old, and he was 8 or 9, so he was all like, ‘As far as I can tell,’ or ‘This is from my observation, just ride along with it and everything’s going to be good.
“So he was always my explainer, and the view he had at that time, which may have been slightly flawed, but he gave me the gist of the story, which was really kind of wonderful.”
The laughter echoes around the room as Greg tells the story.
“Driving to the beach we would always make up funny stories — we’d do it just to crack each other up,” he says. “We’d do it years later and still crack each other up. We had that rapport, which I love. He was the big brother everybody wants to have.”
Lynn Castle, Art Museum of Southeast Texas executive director, reminisces about Carlo, who was a member of the museum’s advisory board.
“Last February, I sent out an email to our advisory board, of which Carlo was a member, requesting help with decorations for our Mardi pARTy. At the last minute, due to the beautiful weather and a growing reservation list, we decided to move the event outside to the café courtyard. We needed to string Christmas lights in the trees for ambient lighting. Carlo showed up (always a snappy dresser) in his white button-down shirt and dress slacks. He did not miss a beat climbing through the jasmine beds, wrapping lights from the bottom of each all the way up to the top with a long pole and ladder. We were out there for several hours, but we had a great time. When we turn on those twinkly lights for night events I always think of Carlo. He was a bright light at AMSET, for sure.”
Chelsea Tipton, Symphony of Southeast Texas conductor says, “Carlo Busceme III was someone who loved and supported all of the arts in Beaumont and Southeast Texas. He has been a good friend to the Symphony of Southeast Texas as well as to me personally with his constant encouragement over the years. Carlo will be missed, and his memory will live on through the music of the SOST that came from his unwavering support over many years.”
Greg Busceme says that goodwill expressed by the Southeast Texas community has been a great comfort for his family.
“That is a major comfort for all of us to see,” he says. “We all knew that, but it is wonderful that everybody else felt that way, too. That outpouring was a beautiful thing.”
The ISSUE staff always appreciated Carlo’s continuing support. Many times he talked with the writers to explore some idea he had read about in our pages. We, like everyone who knew him, will miss his insightful, inquisitive, friendly conversations.
Story by Andy Coughlan, ISSUE editor