Rosewood-Kellum Funeral Home & Rosewood Memorial Park
601 North Witchduck Road, Virginia Beach, VA
Jean Allstead Rush
December 13, 1921 – May 20, 2020
Jean Rush, a long-time resident of Virginia Beach, VA, passed peacefully on Wednesday evening, May 20, 2020 at Seasons of Southpoint, Durham, NC, where she was a resident and, recently, in the care of Duke Hospice. Jean Allstead Rush was the fourth of five children born to Elizabeth Mary (Bessie) Heatlie Allstead and Van Campbell Allstead. She was born at home on 760 Taylor Avenue on 12/13/1921 in Alameda, CA. Her father and grandfather built the Craftsman bungalow for the family.
Jean was a devoted US Navy wife for 58 and a half years to CAPT William H. Rush, USN, Ret (1923-2004). She was predeceased by brothers, Robert A. and John, and sisters Ellen Lorraine Allstead Avak, and Laura Jane Allstead, and cousin, Lucille Ritzman, all of California; her beloved mother-in-law, M. Pearl Castine Rush McCulloch, lifetime friend and sister-in law, Annie Laurie Rush Kinney, sister-in-law Jean Rush Williams, and brother-in-law Lesley Rush. Surviving are Jean’s daughter, Lynda Rush and husband H. G. “Bert” Myers of Durham, NC; son William A. “Ace” and wife Marie S. Rush of Gulf Breeze, FLA; grandchildren A. Kyle Myers (Lana), Allison E. Myers (Eric Vandervort), Rebecca Morgan (Sean Morgan), William A. II (Nicole), and Charlotte Rush (Daniel Borngesser); eight great grandchildren; a treasured sister-in-law, Miki Cline; and much-loved family members and friends. Jean was a resident of Westminster-Canterbury on the Chesapeake Bay (WCBay), Virginia Beach, VA from August 2013 until October 2018.
Following a stroke, Jean lived near her daughter Lynda and her husband, Bert in Durham, NC.
A private service in the Pines Mausoleum Chapel, Princess Anne Memorial Park, will be held on Tues., May 26th. Chaplain Jenny McCann Spivey, WCBay, will officiate. Jean’s family and friends will celebrate her life at a memorial service planned for December 2020 at Westminster Canterbury, VA Beach. Contributions in Jean’s memory may be made to her church, St. Andrews United Methodist Church c/o Rev. Jeffrey Witt, SR Pastor, 717 Tucson Road Virginia Beach, VA 23462 https://www.saumcvb.org/ Telephone: 757.467.1047
Yaya, as she was called by her grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and their friends, was known for devotion to her husband, Bill and her exemplary job as a U.S. Navy wife; her beautiful hand-written notes and cards; her meticulous housekeeping and fully-stocked pantry; her love of thrift shops; her punctuality; and her love of order and wellness, balanced with butterscotch-dipped ice cream cones and Hardee’s hot dogs.
FIRST-PERSON OBITUARY FOR SHARING BY FRIENDS AND FAMILY Our Yaya, Jean Elizabeth Allstead Rush December 13, 1921 – May 20, 2020
A first-person obituary in Yaya Jean’s words, written by daughter Lynda and edited by granddaughter Allison. Inspired by Kay Ryan’s poem Things Shouldn’t Be So Hard.
i. God and I together chose this 20th day of May, when Jacaranda bursts forth in deepest periwinkle petals then releases them in compass directions and red Knockout roses reach for the bright spring sun. Seasonal footprints. A life should leave deep tracks: The passage of a life should show; it should abrade. But, things shouldn’t be so hard. So, no ruts will mark my path, nor will there be ashes to cast. And “I will show you a still more excellent way” (1 Corinthians 12:31) to remember me.
ii. I was born a day’s train ride away from the Daggett Borax mines in the Mojave Desert and less than two hours from the farms and vineyards of Agua Caliente, Sonoma County, on the Bay Area island of Alameda, California where my Swedish grandfather Gustaf Adolf Ahlstedt built his home and put down roots. I remain grateful that I inherited neither of my grandfather or father’s irascible dispositions, but was never sure whom I took after more, my Irish or Swedish great grandmother or neither. Although I had fine features like both of them, green eyes, aquiline nose, pink lips, and the lovely but cursed fragile Irish skin which troubled me in my deepest older age. But, I cherished most my mother Bessie’s kin who still dwell within the Scottish Borders around Selkirk.
iii. Had further education been an option for me in 1939, I would have made my way to nursing or medical school, where my attention to detail, great focus and dexterity would have served me well. I believe in order and structured days. It has been my habit to shun naps, flit like tern from task to task. I moved recyclables curbside every other Monday, stacked newspapers and old towels in the garage for pickup and delivery to the animal shelter, hid cinnamon candy and Oreos in my surreptitious stash in the dishwasher which I concealed from everyone for years and never admitted their presence even when presented with the evidence, made my bed every day (precise hospital corners), self-administered eye drops at precise four-hour intervals with two sets each night at bedtime, brushed my teeth by 3-minute egg timer, never failed to floss, practiced my form of ‘self-care’ with a weekly beauty parlor visit, took poodle Jett to the groomer whether he was due or not (A new blue ribbon elevates even a poodle’s mood!) picked out the next day’s attire each evening; removed nightly and placed my hearing aid and good jewelry in a special bedside dish.
iv. Like other survivors of the Great Depression, I kept a stocked pantry and freezer where grandchildren could find Chef Boyardee Ravioli or Breyers Butter Pecan ice cream, and I could reach for a single-meal serving of stuffed green peppers, crab cakes or stir fry. I froze skim milk (in case of self-appointed expiration-date-checkers) and always used International Delight Hazelnut creamer in my coffee, the latter drawing disdain from my Almond milk and half-and-half purists. Cheese grits must be microwaved exactly 83-seconds, with a slice of yellow processed cheese, the kind in the crinkly plastic wrapper. I enjoyed couch-sitting with my daughter and granddaughter on their extended visits, opening bags of groceries and goodie bags from my son and daughter-in-law full of essentials and forbidden treats that I would never eat (!) but accepted graciously anyway and gathering on holidays with an intergenerational collection of family and friends.
v. From my kismet meeting at 24 with husband Bill at Oakland’s Bell Telephone Company and our marriage six weeks later, to my move at 92 to the high-rise apartment on the Chesapeake Bay, I found much to celebrate in life, despite early tragedies. Bill and I were like swans with oil-laden ‘preen glands’ of tenacity that helped keep us warm, dry and afloat. My children said that resilience was my foremost trait, and I guess that was true for both of us. I vowed, however, to overcome the legacy of my childhood, my cat-of-nine-tales carrying father, a loving mother who heard voices that ebbed and flowed and saw things that were not there and once ran her hand through the ringer washer and a beloved, poetic older sister, Laura, who mothered me and whose life unraveled by a brutal act from which she never recovered. (Sister Ellen, who predeceased me, directed her children not to mention Laura in her own obituary, as she never revealed that her sister was committed to a decades-long sentence to Agnews Sanitarium, a victim of an unprosecuted violence.)
vi. Unlike my father and grandfather before me, I inherited a calm demeanor, developed a protective coating like the waxy Hawaiian anthurium Bill brought back from the islands and guarded myself from others’ displays of temper, not always the wisest course, but I expect that my childhood witness, 1950’s cultural expectations for married women and the role of the Navy wife shaped my self-protective and don’t-let-on nature. I was reserved, not effusive, but friendly, especially when putting pen-to-paper and meeting new people. I was not quick to share a confidence and certainly one not prone to bluster, be anxious or depressed.
On the other hand, I have heard that a few of you liken me to the thistle, a symbol I offer you, for the Scottish national emblem (that also blooms these late days in May) has ‘sharp prickles along the margins” as you think I do. I acknowledge that I displayed a thorn from time to time. No excuses, but I was a product of my era and knew only a thistle’s ways to correct, chasten or wrest you from your own demise, and thought my approach would be medicinal, like the plant itself. Know that I only wanted to spare you needless grief, and, as husband Bill, said so frequently, I ‘needled’ you like a thistle, alas, to no avail. I beg you to find a more loving way to offer constructive criticism with your own family. I always said to my children, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.”
vii. You may want to consider a lifestyle that reflects Scottish traditions of lentil and barley soups, eschews the Irish ones of whisky and too many potatoes or that of Swedish ‘remoteness.’ Instead, go for a crusty leg of lamb with mint jelly, nursery rhymes, lattice-topped berry pies, a vegetable and flower garden, well-pruned fruit trees and brewed pots of tea like those in my Alameda family’s that marked my meager childhood. I’m reminded here to pause to reminisce, and sing a verse of Four and Twenty Blackbirds Baked in a Pie or Dance With Me Henry (Bom! Bom! Bom! Bom!) or celebrate my love of hop-scotch, jacks, ice cream cones, cats, South Carolina rules’ Scrabble, Yatzee, Uno, kisses on the napes of babies’ necks and Windsor Rose lipstick. (Oh oh! I must acknowledge that I could get set in my ways and wear the same shade for decades; you can leave that trait behind and experiment with trends and colors!) I suggest you replicate my additions of lemon meringue and pecan pie, German Chocolate cake and Seven Layer Salad and try out my Five-Flavored Pound Cake that appeared on the menu at the Gamble Mill Tavern in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, and was transported every hunting season to a grandson’s deer camp. viii. I must admit that, while I only remotely grazed in popular culture (actually Ann and I read People Magazine religiously for years), I was enamored with Jean Harlow and plucked my eyebrows in her honor. However, I never adopted the menswear attire of Katherine Hepburn or Lauren Bacall. With slim figure, I wore well the cinched-waist fashions of the late 30’s and early 40’s along with face-framing rolls that my daughter called ‘fetching.” I found a handsome husband who embodied my ideals of Clark Gable and Spencer Tracy. I never thought I was beautiful, but others said I was, even including my latest days when I could not lift my body from the bed or recognize my visitors.
ix. Even as I was ready to move from Violet Bank Drive to my delightful two-bedroom, two-bath high rise above the Bay, I protested and mourned my move to a smaller unit with a view. Moves to Italy, Greece and Puerto Rico paled in comparison. I lamented the absence of an oven, fumed over a burner that did not require my supervision. My baking days ended in that time. (No, I shall not admit that my wrists had grown too weak to lift cast iron skillet or carry cake-filled pans without risk. But will admit to pushing an unbaked pecan pie on a cart to a friends’ oven, for baking.) I retained my zest for life even in my mid-nineties, as I hope you will be able to do as well. I sprinted down Westminster Canterbury passageways, tormenting my family and causing my Physical Therapist’s chagrin; But, I was first in the dining room, got my seat at my favorite table, my two tiny plastic pots of artificially flavored Hazelnut creamer, and secured the best spot next to my favorite instructor in the exercise room.
x. “Things Shouldn’t Be So Hard,” poet Ryan concluded, and I say, they do not have to be! Take a cue from me. I may not be here any longer, but the passage of my life and my love for you will show, not with tracks of tears or toil but through hand-written notes and cards I sent to you over the decades, and in my China-painted plates and vessels I passed along, pieces of Capodimonte with mended petals, smooth blue Spanish Ylladro’s and a recipe or two.
As I stop by as part of that “great cloud of witnesses” (Heb. 12:1 KJV), I hope to discover a Greek salad with pepperoncini and feta cheese on your counter, a recipe for James Beard’s Chicken with 50-Cloves of Garlic, photographs and artifacts from Papa’s and my days in Thessaloniki, Roosevelt Roads, Naples and an object or two from Papa and Yaya together for you to hold us close to you. So, freed from my earthly body and my life’s journey complete, I leave you the words of this 1901 hymn: Let not your heart be troubled, so lose your doubts and fears; His eye is on the sparrow, and I know he watches me. AND YOU. (John 14:1) Remember to ‘dig down’ and that the sun will come up tomorrow!”
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Jean Allstead Rush
May 28, 2020
It was years ago that I worked at a command where our Commanding Officer was Captain Bill Rush. Time has a way of passing by us so quickly we don’t even realize it’s happening.
I am truly sorry for your loss. As I read the words from this lovely lady, I can’t help but wish that I too could have known her. It sounds to me like she ‘fought the good fight and finished strong the race’. May the good Lord bless your entire family and give you peace that only He can give.
May 28, 2020
Mrs. Rush was a fantastic neighbor on Violet Bank Dr. and a Beautiful person inside and out. Warm Hugs and many Prayers to her entire family and friends. Ginn Hinds
May 25, 2020
Only the best pecan pie ever