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County’s oldest resident turns 107

County’s oldest resident turns 107
by MIRANDA McCOY • Staff Writer Coalfield.Com
February 15, 2012

Rose Rush of Clintwood, who celebrated her birthday last week, holds a Most Prominent Citizen award from the Dickenson County Board of Supervisors. Pictured with her, from left, are Brian Beck with Appalachian Agency for Senior Citizens, Clintwood Mayor Donald Baker and board of supervisors chairman Donnie Rife. SUBMITTED PHOTO.

CLINTWOOD — As we look into the future and consider what it may have in store for us, we are faced with uncertainty and mystery. And as we ponder our hopes and dreams, most of us wish for the opportunity to live a long, healthy life. In this dream, Rose Rush has undoubtedly succeeded.

Surrounded by flowers, cards and balloons, Miss Rush accompanied by her elderly niece Louise Sutherland and a select few guests celebrated her 107th birthday Feb. 7.

The gathering seated in her well-kept living room watched as Miss Rush, as she is called by most, was honored with a Most Prominent Citizen award from the Dickenson County Board of Supervisors, which was presented by board chairman Donnie Rife.

Also in attendance were Clintwood Mayor Donald Baker, Dickenson County Historical Society director and neighbor Mary Hylton and Appalachian Agency for Senior Citizens representatives Jerry Monk and Brian Beck.

The group was privileged with an invaluable honor and intangible gift from Rush herself — the sharing of her life.

Rush, who lives alone and cares completely for herself, recalled stories from growing up and residing in Dickenson County. Born in 1905, she lives in the same house in which she was born and which was built by her father in about 1902.

Remembering dates and names with impressive accuracy, Rush provided a brief timeline of her life, adding details that displays both her wit and intelligence.

Sutherland had also written details about her aunt's life to share.

The youngest daughter of 10 children, Rush has 19 nieces and nephews and continues to maintain contact with them and their children and grandchildren.

From highlighting events such as attending grades first through fifth at a school located where the county School Board office now sits to dedicating more than 40 years of her life to teaching other students in the county, Rush's commitment to and love for education is apparent.

She was valedictorian of her own graduating class from Honaker High School and attended various colleges, including the University of Virginia, Emory and Henry and what is now Vanderbilt University to receive her teaching license.

Starting her teaching career around 1922 at Sandlick, Rush recalls the four teachers at the school where she “taught the little ones." Their principal, said Rush, was a 17-year-old graduate of the University of Richmond and hadn’t taught a day in his life.

While Rush was teaching in Alexandria, her father passed away. So she came back to Clintwood to care for her mother and remains there still.

Rush taught various subjects continuously in different school systems within the state until she retired at age 65. The year following her retirement, Rush returned to the classroom as a substitute teacher and taught for 10 additional years.

Math was her favorite subject and she is remembered as an excellent math teacher by many, said friends and family.

Keeping up with current events and political affairs, Rush prides herself on voting in person at each election and considers this very important, said Sutherland. “She loves the new voting machines."

Hylton, who has been Rush's next-door neighbor for 44 years, said during the celebration that she has been asking Rush for years to allow her to be recognized for living such a full, giving and healthy life.

Hylton said everyone wants to know Rose's secret to long life. “We’ve asked her,” said Hylton, “but she always says that she didn’t do anything different than anybody else.”

“She has never married and has never had children,” said Hylton, laughing. “That’s her secret,” she joked.

Rush only has hired help come into her home on Saturday to help with the more intensive and difficult tasks of keeping house and maintain her lawn, of which she is very proud, according to her niece. Even when her help arrives on Saturdays, said Hylton, Rush follows along and insists on working along with her.

With excellent health on her side, Rush has never had any serious illnesses or been hospitalized. She also continues to drive.

When asked whether Rush uses any senior citizens services or if home health care aides visit with her, Hylton replied that “they’re not needed.” Rife added with a smile, “Not unless they need Rose to put a band aid on ‘em.”

A strict routine, a passion for reading, and working to care for her home, which is immaculately clean, provides Rush with a purpose and keeps her both physically and mentally active, said Hylton.

Preparing all her meals herself, Miss Rush eats little processed or “junk” foods. She is an excellent cook and “at family dinners her macaroni and cheese and her biscuits are always in great demand,” said her niece.

Sutherland said her aunt is also “very particular about her appearance.” She enjoys shopping for clothes and keeps up with what’s “in” in the latest fashion, wrote Sutherland.

“Fiercely independent,” as described by family members, Rush manages her finances entirely on her own.

Hylton also describes Rush as independent, and private too. She recalls several instances that Rush chose to avoid the public’s attention.

Hylton said a Social Security Administration representative visited Rush several years ago hoping to interview her and present her with a certificate that honors Virginia residents who are over 103 years old. Rush accepted the certificate, but refused the interview.

She has been approached multiple times with requests for interviews and photos since turning 100, but has refused them all, stating with a sense of humbleness that she has done nothing to receive recognition.

Hoping to store some of Rush's valuable memories, Hylton’s entreaties to record in writing or on video Rush's life have also been refused.

During the party, one guest noted that Rush should begin keeping a diary, preserving pieces of her inside its pages. “It’s too late for me,” she replied, but then she turned to face her niece and said, “but you, Louise, you should.”

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