It is great
to be among Rusty's family and friends. . . and it's an honor
to have the opportunity to say a few words about Rusty.
heard the news on February 16, my mind and body have been flooded
with images and feelings of my experiences with Rusty. . . Rusty
at the piano in Ann Arbor, at his home on Hill Street, at the
Zweiflers', the Mitchells' and. . . at the Cunninghams', rooming
with Rusty at the Dave Strack basketball camp in 1967, biking
in Nova Scotia in 1974, visiting in Dallas in 1980, our weddings
and the weddings of our friends, enjoying our kids with holidays
in Deep River and Shawnee - "Brown-Eyed Girl", "Lover's Prayer",
"My Back Pages", "New York Romance", "All You Need is Love",
"What a Wonderful World", "Scapin'", "Ubu Rock", "Feste". .
. "Sweet Appreciation". So many vivid memories, so many good
memories. . .
On my last
visit to hospital, Alison and several friends were ready to
share a bottle of wine and propose a toast to Rusty, as we began
to raise our glasses, Rusty's shaky hand raised his water glass,
and he toasted us! A toast filled with profound words that called
us to love ourselves, to love one another and appreciate life.
He added some witty, humorous thoughts, as well - I won't even
try to recreate it - but as so many times before, it simply
blew me away!
and compassionate man gave us so much, and now, once again,
he has brought us together.
while we grieve his death, we continue to be inspired by his
message of love, his works of creativity, and the courage he
displayed throughout his illness.
Alison and Nat for taking such good care of Rusty. You have
been and continue to be the pillars of strength and support.
while sharing the stomach flu with my 2 year old daughter, Abby,
we watched the specially programmed Mr. Rogers marathon paying
tribute to his life. Although I always thought of Mr. Rogers
as corny (and frankly, a bit creepy), Abby's attentiveness caused
me to listen in a serious way to the simple, but challenging
messages of these shows. Messages that are so often heard, but
so rarely fully realized.
appreciate others, emote and express yourself artistically,
cherish and celebrate life! It struck me utterly - Mr. Rogers
could have called these, "Rusty's attributes", and they were
constantly at work in his relationships and his art.
learned a lot about being a friend from Rusty; for over 37 years,
he nurtured our relationship, staying in communication, visiting,
boosting my confidence about my career and really being there
to give me honest counsel and support during some of the most
trying times of my life. He also was there to celebrate many
of the happiest moments of my life - I cannot imagine a better
friend. I know this is true for so many others here today, too.
For myself and all your friends, I say "Thank you, Rusty Magee!"
- " We love you!"
passion and compassion were always coupled with his incredible
mind. The power of his mind was awesome. I first realized this
when we went to our first Detriot Tigers game in 1969. Rusty
was updating batting averages and other stats instantaneously
as the game progressed (and kids, this was before calculators
and laptops). By applying his genius, he was able to connect
with any audience, from young children to the most sophisticated
intellectual. There seemed to be no limits to the information
he could absorb, and to the original ways that he would process
and analyze information. There were many times I felt that I
possessed too few synapses to keep up with what was going on
in Rusty's brain - it almost seemed as if his mind was in fast
forward, while mine was in slow motion.
me, ultimately, he always grounded his mental magic, with his
huge heart. The heart that allowed him to love so much and so
many people and so many things. During my visits in the hospital
he always expressed his love so freely, first and foremost for
his family, but also for his many friends and for the very details
people so thoroughly, but also his records, c.d.s, baseball
memorabilia, comics, stamps, maps and so much more. He seemed
to make a personal and almost spiritual connection with everything
in his environment. Rusty made connections that made us think,
made us laugh and made us cry. And near the end of his life,
he seemed to be making a concerted effort to connect with something
even greater - and he often brought up God. Because he thought
of my mother as a woman of great faith, we talked about her
and God quite a bit at various points during his illness, including
the last time I visited him in the hospital. My mother loved
Rusty, and she used to say that people who nurture the soul
and connect us to the best parts of being human are people who
are doing the work of GOD - if this is true, then Rusty was
certainly one of God's hardest workers! As my Mom battled cancer,
in her last days, she made very few requests. One request she
did make of me was to see if I could find "one of those Christmas
Eve tapes of Rusty and your friends in our living room.". For
over a decade, my family and a group of friends went to St.
Andrew's Church for midnight mass and after the service, Rusty
led us in carols and improvisation into the early morning of
Christmas Day. "If you can find it", she asked, "find the part
where Rusty led us in "Joy to the World". "Nobody can bring
joy to "Joy to the World" like Rusty", she said. I reminded
her that he would then go straight into ". . .joy to the fishes
in the deep blue sea" and she laughed and added, "nobody else
can do that either!". Unfortunately, we couldn't find that tape
and instead, Rusty Fed Exed me one of his recent tapes. My Mom
loved it. Rusty said that my Mom's spirit comforted him when
he went in for his operations and in our conversations Rusty
remembered a comment she had made to him when she talked to
him by phone during her illness: She said, "Don't worry, Rusty,
I'll still be around, just in a different way.". In our conversation,
Rusty said, "That sounds good, I think I'll subscribe to that
one.". I am comforted by the fact that Rusty's spirit will be
with us forever, that he will continue to bring joy to the world
and that his music will play on. In one of our last conversations,
Rusty said he regretted that my mom never got to hear songs
from his musical, "The Green Heart". Well, listen up Mom (and
Rusty)! It is now my pleasure to introduce one of Rusty's friends
and favorite performers who will sing one of his most beautiful
compositions, "The Green Heart". Ladies and gentlemen: Rebecca
here to return to Speaker List