‘He just knew everybody:’ 29-year-old butcher loses battle with COVID-19
In the small town of Irene, Josh Buss knew just about everyone.
And if he met someone he didn’t know, he would be sure to shake some hands and change that quickly, his mother Colleen Buss said.
Buss had a knack for remembering names and striking up conversations. While that empathy first came to light at Sunday church services when he was young, he took those skills to the meat counter when chatting with customers at Dick’s Country Butcher Shop just outside of Irene where he worked full-time as a butcher for about the past seven years.
“If he met you, you were his friend,” Colleen said. “He just knew everybody.”
At 29, Buss is one of just a few South Dakotan in their 20s to die of COVID-19, as seven have been reported by the state Department of Health. He had no known pre-existing conditions, Colleen said. Buss died on Saturday.
Buss lived in Sioux Falls with his parents until he was 14 before moving with his parents to an acreage near Beresford, where a love for the outdoors — fishing, hunting and his latest love of camping — were fueled.
He then started working at the Irene butcher shop on a part-time basis during high school, and went on to join the staff full-time after completing his welding degree at Southeast Technical College in Sioux Falls.
While the meat processing business was always steady, Buss was one of four employees at Dick’s Country Butcher Shop, along with owner Joe Sherman, to undergo long hours, extended locker dates and an influx of customers because of the pandemic and Smithfield’s temporary closure last April.
Buss was featured in photos with a recent newspaper story about how COVID-19 has affected butchers and meat lockers.
Outside of work, Buss was a sweet and kind husband, said his wife Melinda Buss, whom he married in July 2017. He was also a proud father to a 2-year-old girl, Gracie.
“He was kind of grumbly and gruff,” his mother Colleen said. “But his heart was so big. The people who he loved were everything to him.”
Buss tested positive for COVID-19 on March 14, a few days after he started feeling unwell. While he started to feel better toward mid-week, things took a turn for the worse and he was taken by ambulance to the Sanford hospital in Sioux Falls on Friday night.
He died shortly after, at about 1:30 a.m. Saturday morning.
Funeral services were held on Mar. 27 at Brooklyn Evangelical Free Church in Beresford.