Local Dentist Named To Hall Of Fame

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Mention Harold Rush around the Rim country and you'll probably be told he's the friendly hometown dentist who has been the dean of dental hygiene about as long as anyone can remember.

His name, however, will generate a much different response on the campus of Friends University in Wichita, Kan. There, he is remembered as a man who was once the most accomplished student-athlete on the university campus.

His excellence on the college scene, from 1962 to 1966, has earned him a spot in the Friends University Athletic Hall of Fame. Rush will be inducted Feb. 4 during halftime of a men's basketball game pitting Friends against Tabor University.

Rush will be accompanied to the induction ceremony by his wife, Barbara, who he met when both were students at Friends.

An extremely modest man, Rush has to be prodded into revealing the slightest details about the accomplishments that led to his induction into the hall. His modesty apparently has been a character trait since his college days.

In a 1966 article that appeared in the university newspaper, the author wrote about Rush: "A visitor to the Friends campus could not get information from Harold himself a modest, unassuming type; he is reluctant to talk about himself and would rather praise someone else or talk about further schooling."

What is known about Rush is that after his 1962 graduation from Coffeyville, Ka. High school, he was awarded a partial scholarship to Friends.

In high school, he was an honors student, all-conference wingback in football and a conference hurdle champion in track and field.

Rush recalls that there was never much doubt he would enroll at Friends University.

Raised a Quaker, he and his family had long attended the small Friends church in Coffeyville. While Rush was growing up, a sister, brother and other relatives attended Friends a Quaker school.

"There were about 40 of us (family members) who went there," Rush said.

Star athlete

During his stint at Friends, Rush earned four varsity letters in both football and track and field.

As a starting halfback, defensive back and place kicker, he seldom left the field.

His junior year when the team was without a quarterback, Rush was asked to give up his running back duties and take over as signal caller.

Today, Rush admits he was more comfortable carrying the ball than as quarterback but he managed to finish out the campaign calling signals.

His gridiron accomplishments were lauded in a 1966 school newspaper article.

"Besides being a shifty runner, a top-notch punt returner and tough on defense, he does much of the team's kicking," it reads.

That year, he was named the team's outstanding halfback and was elected a co-captain.

His endeavors on the football field were more than equaled by his feats in track and field.

According to university records, Rush set school records in the 220-yard low hurdles, the broad jump (now long jump), the 330-yard intermediate hurdles, the 400-meter hurdles and the triple jump.

He also ran a leg on the 440-yard relay, 880-yard relay and mile relay teams that all set school records.

At one time, Rush held nine school track records.

In 1963, he was named the school's "Outstanding Track Man" and in 1965, the "Outstanding Spring Sports Man."

At the conference track and field championships his sophomore, junior and senior year, Rush finished as the meets' high point scorer.

Winning those honors, Rush said, are most meaningful to him because they helped improve the overall image and prestige of Friends University.

When Rush had the opportunity to advance to the national track and field scene, he continued to shine. In the 1964, NAIA National Championships, he was fifth in the 400-meter hurdles. The following year, he finished sixth.

Renaissance man

When Rush wasn't excelling in football and track, he was plunging head first into other academic and extracurricular activities.

School records show that in 1963 he won the freshman math award, and in 1964 he was named the "Outstanding Junior" man.

He was also the freshman and sophomore class chapel representative, vice president of the Collegiate Christian Fellowship and treasurer of Circle K (college version of Kiwanis club).

In 1964, he was named king of the annual Cherry Carnival celebration and president of the men's dormitory. He also was actively involved in Alpha Kappa Tau, Student National Education Association, the lettermen's club and a member of the dean's honor roll.

After graduating with honors from Friends, Rush went on to earn a master's degree in biology, a Ph.D. in zoology and a D.D.S.

Since moving to Payson and establishing his dental practice, Rush has turned his athletic attention to archery.

In 1987, he was a member of the United States team that participated in the World Archery Championships in Adelaide, Australia. He also was a member of the Western Regional team at the 1987 U.S. Olympic Festival.

Today, at 57, Rush continues to compete in national archery competition and is on track to participate in a national seniors championship event in July.

Longtime Payson residents probably remember Rush practicing archery at his home by shooting from the front yard, through open doors and a garage, at a target in the back yard. Seems, there wasn't room enough for a full-size shooting range at the home so he improvised.

In the 1980s, Rush also managed to find time to help son, Keven, and daughter, Marci, develop into two of Parson's most accomplished athletes.

A former three-sport standout at Payson High, Keven was a school track and field record holder.

The 1987 4x100 relay team he was a member of continues to hold the school mark. Today, Keven owns and operates Payson Athletic Club.

During Marci's teenage years, she blossomed into an age group national record holder in both the shot put and discus.

Athletics, especially track and field, have always been a source of pride for Rush and his family. But he has never forgotten the promise he made, after graduation from Friends, to continue to work with his church.

In the past two decades, he has participated in four two-week-long dental mission trips to Central America, where he spent long hours treating impoverished citizens.

Rush's devotion to family, church and athletics might be best summed up in a recent letter his daughter wrote to Friends University.

"I feel my father is an outstanding nominee, not only because of his athletic accomplishments, but because of his lifetime achievements," she wrote. "Harold Rush has proven over and over to be a man of many accomplishments, both on and off the field."

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