Phillip Rodney Rushing was born Feb. 22, 1934, at Rushing, Arkansas, the second of three sons born to Clay and Ina (Hinesley) Rushing.
He departed this life Nov. 21, 2020, at the age of 86 at his home in Rushing.
Rodney attended his early years of school at Rushing and Fox one-room schools before completing his high school education at Rural Special School where he was a graduate of the Class of 1951.
The Rushing boys, Carmon, Rodney, and Anthel, were raised by dedicated Christian parents who taught them how to serve God, farm, garden, work, fish, hunt, read, write, value education, read music, and be of service in their community.
Rodney attended Arkansas State Teachers College (now University of Central Arkansas) where he roomed with his older brother, Carmon, the first semester. Soon he had a job working at the maintenance department on campus, along with his cousin, Wendell Hinesley, which would pay their way through college. Rodney received a Bachelor’s degree in history and would return later for a Master’s degree in Education and an Administration certification.
Rodney’s first job out of college was as a basketball coach and history teacher at Rural Special School. His best recruit was a scorekeeper, Angalee Berry, who had recently graduated.
On Aug. 31, 1956, Angalee and Rodney married in Conway, Arkansas on the college campus. Rodney had been drafted to serve in the US Army and soon departed to Fort Hood, Texas for basic training. He was stationed in Germany as part of the US forces during the Cold War.
The young couple corresponded by letters over that time. By the time Rodney returned from his tour of duty, he finally got to meet his first child, Phillip, who was eleven months old. Rodney would start a new job as principal at Rural Special School, arriving home one week before school began. Mr. Rushing, as he was known, would spend a 37-year career at the school as a teacher, principal, and superintendent.
He unassumingly did what needed to be done from unfreezing pipes, fixing plumbing, or working at the spring which provided water to the school, to disciplining students, mentoring teachers, teaching civics, and working with the community to pass millage increases to keep the school district financially viable.
The couple would eventually have two sons, Phillip and Terry, and two daughters, Renee and Rachelle to make their family complete. He was loved, admired, and respected by his children who treasure his legacy.
Rodney was a life-time member of Antioch General Baptist Church at Rushing where he served as a deacon for over fifty years. Rodney accepted Christ at an early age. He was a Gideon and for many years a board member of Stone County Medical Center. He was a charter member of Fox Volunteer Fire Department. Rodney and Angalee were charter members of the Stone County Historical Society and contributed to many of the publications of the organization in its early years. They also helped compile two history books about the community of Fox. The two shared a love for genealogy and preserving history as well as careers as educators.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the couple stayed close to home, enjoying drives and walks around the farm. Rodney was pleased to have purchased over the course of his adult lifetime all the land that his great-grandfather and grandfather Rushing had homesteaded beginning in 1872. He enjoyed giving farm tours to anyone who was interested in the history of the place.
Rodney relished his role as Papa to 14 grandchildren and 23 great-grandchildren who will remember his storytelling and farm adventures, and his role model of love, generosity, kindness, and good humor. He was an exemplary father to his children who witnessed how he was a loving and dedicated husband for 64 years to their mother. Rodney fondly remembered and appreciated the many teachers, staff, principals, board members, and students from his long career at Rural Special School.
Phillip Rodney Rushing was preceded in death by his parents, Clay and Ina Rushing, his older brother, Carmon Rushing, a daughter-in-law, Norma Carlton Rushing, brothers-in-law Donald Dodd, Horace Morrison, and Paul Miller.
Survivors are his wife, Angalee Berry Rushing, younger brother, Charles Anthel (Carol) Rushing of Bryant, his four children Phillip (Kathy) Rushing, Terry (Ladonna) Rushing, Renee (Philip) Carr, and Rachelle (Terry) Stewart, all of Rushing. Grandchildren and great-grandchildren Nicholas (Amara) Rushing and son Elisha; Kayla Newman and children Lexie, Logan, and Natalie; Nicki (Dusty) Osburn and children Aden and Preslie; Kayla (Bret) Knapp and children Mason and Tristan; Kristin (Matt) Marsolf and children Makena, Gage, Blake, and Kinley; Trent (Rachel) Rushing and children Jocelyn and Allison; Layton Reeves; Autumn (Dwight) Gillihan and children Alaina and Rhett; Weston Reeves; Derek (Brittani) Carr and daughter Angalee; Hunter (Emily) Carr and son Ellison; Weston Carr; Dustin (Aubrey Ann) Stewart and children Rush and Davis; Dylan (Haley) Stewart and children Cooper, Crawford, and Clay. Brothers and sisters-in law, Doris Rushing, Carol Rushing, Gearldee Dodd, Shirley, and Coy Sutterfield, Dayle and Bill Bonds, Gayle Morrison, Janice Miller, Deloris, and James Brewer, Faye and Frank Rushing, Jay and Judy Berry, Randy and Holly Berry, Marty and Janice Berry.
Pallbearers are nephews Anthony Rushing, David Rushing, and Brian Rushing, and grandsons Nicholas Rushing, Trent Rushing, Derek Carr, Hunter Carr, Weston Carr, Dustin Stewart, Dylan Stewart, Layton Reeves, and Weston Reeves. Honorary pallbearers are granddaughters Kristin Marsolf, Kayla Newman, Nicki Osburn, Kayla Knapp, and Autumn Gillihan.
To comply with COVID-19 guidelines, a graveside service will be at Rushing Cemetery on Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2020, at 2 p.m. with former pastor Roy Dale Clark officiating along with grandsons Nicholas Rushing and Dylan Stewart.
A drive-thru celebration of life will be held at the Rural Special School campus on Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2020, from 5-7 p.m.
Funeral arrangements are by Roller Crouch Funeral Home.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Rural Educational Heritage Inc. for the Friends of Rural Special Fund, PO Box 145, Fox Arkansas 72051.