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In a special edition of WIZS Town Talk on Tuesday at 11 a.m., WIZS staff – past and present – and others fondly remembered George Blackmore Rush, Jr., former WIZS general manager. Rush passed away at his home on Saturday, December 5, 2020, at the age of 87.
Born in Aliquippa, PA on July 31, 1933, he was the son of the late Dr. George Blackmore Rush, Sr. and Cassie Federer Rush. George attended Grove City College, earned his MBA from the University of South Carolina and was a Veteran of the United States Army.
His professional experience included management of credit and collection personnel and sales, consulting, general management and newscasting. He was also a member of First Presbyterian Church in Henderson where he formerly served as a deacon and elder.
(Click play below for audio)
Rush retired from WIZS in 2018, in his mid-eighties, after more than 15 years with the station.
“George was there for us many different times and led us through quite a number of trials and tribulations. He was also there enjoying the good times,” said WIZS General Manager John Charles Rose. “In particular, for me, was the time my own father passed away. George was right there to step in, not only as a friend but as a fatherly-figure and someone who could help the radio station continue to sustain what we had and continue to grow at a very difficult time.”
Rose continued, “He was a great businessman; he really knew how to run and operate a business.”
Trey Snide, WIZS account manager, said Rush was a “wealth of information” and was always willing to lend a helping hand. “Every time I had a question or a problem, he was able to help solve it. I’ve been here at WIZS going on four years now, and what I remember the most is the knowledge George had of the local Vance County community. I’m grateful he was part of my beginning steps at the station.”
WIZS Program Manager Bill Harris said Rush was “a joy to work with.”
“I don’t think I ever saw George mad,” said Harris. “He always had a kind word to say about people and was extremely nice and considerate. He was always the perfect gentleman.”
Harris said he was impressed by how quickly and thoroughly Rush, a PA native, adapted to the local area. “He had so much knowledge and very much acclimated himself to this area.”
This sentiment was echoed by Tom Hannon, Rush’s former WIZS Town Talk co-host and supervisor while employed at Roses Stores: “George adapted himself to Vance County. He brought a knowledge of national and local implications of such things as gross national product, interest rates and the stock market and explained how these could affect the everyday person in Vance County.”
Matthew Handley, who worked for WIZS while on break from college during the summers, said Rush stands out in his mind as being one of the people to help launch his career. “George was in the room when I had my first interview at WIZS,” Handley explained. “I look back on that interview as being the start of my career in this industry, and that’s one of the things I’m going to remember him for. He took a chance on me that allowed me to get to the point where I am now with a full-time career in Michigan.”
Sherman Wilson, George’s former co-host on Friday’s Town Talk Trivia, said, “It was a pure joy to work with him on that show. I think he enjoyed it as much as I did. Sometimes on Town Talk we acted silly and had a lot of fun, but make no mistake about it, George was a really smart guy. No matter who came on the show, no matter what the subject, he could interview them. He did it with ease and made the people he was interviewing feel comfortable.”
Brandon Boyd, Town Talk guest host, said, “We mourn the loss, and we celebrate the life of George Rush. George loved Henderson; he loved Vance County and its people; he loved our stories. George Rush was a name we all knew and a voice we recognized, and George loved WIZS Radio.”
Rush is survived by his wife, Jane Negus Rush of the home; his daughter, Catherine Rush-Braswell and husband, Joseph of Durham; his son, George Warren Rush and wife, Linda of Henderson; a granddaughter, Kelly Twisdale; a grandson, Benjamin Rush; and a sister, Susan Bean and husband, David of Mason, OH. (Obituary information courtesy J.M White Funeral Home.)
A private memorial service will be held today at First Presbyterian Church by Rev. Matthew Copple. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to First Presbyterian Church, PO Box 726, Henderson, NC 27536.