As a sophomore at UCLA in 1978, Harold Rush set a goal of someday opening a dental practice in Payson.
Three years later that goal became a reality and for the next 27 years, he treated the dental needs of hundreds of Rim Country patients.
Rush's long tenure in private practice came to an end Dec. 28, 2007, when he officially retired from the profession.
"That was my last full day of working but I am going back for a few hours to help out," the 62-year-old dentist said.
In his semi-retirement, Rush will now turn his attention to real estate, working alongside his daughter, Marci at ERA Young Realty.
"Dentistry and real estate are two different worlds, but I'm looking forward to the new challenges," he said.
Marci is also thrilled about working alongside her father, "it will be exciting for me."
In looking back on his dental career, Rush believes his decision to begin a practice in Payson was a good one.
"I've enjoyed having had a family practice here, I don't know if I would have been happy as a big-city dentist," he said.
"There is so much to be said about working with the people we have in our town."
Rush remembers his infatuation with the Rim Country began in 1969 when he and his wife, Barbara, visited the area while on a camping trip.
Years later, the two returned to Payson to rekindle the fond memories they had of the small town.
It was during that second visit that the two began considering, someday, calling Payson home.
"My wife was a Whittier, California girl and we were both living in Indiana but we wanted to come here," Rush said.
Prior to enrolling at UCLA dental school, Rush was a student at Friends University in Wichita, Kan. where he was a star athlete in track and football.
In 2002, he was inducted into the school's Hall of Fame.
During the ceremonies, he was lauded for his exploits in sports, the classroom and as a student leader.
After graduating in 1966, he was nominated to be a Rhodes Scholar but decided first on a high school teaching career and later, dental school.
As a young Rim Country dentist, he fulfilled three two-week missions for his Quaker Church to Central America.
"Those were very interesting, we did extractions only, working in the jungle usually without running water and electricity," Rush said.
"About eight years ago we decided to go back (to Central America), for about a week, and help out again." he said.
On one of those trips, Rush took along his son, Keven, who was then only 12 years of age.
As teens, both Keven and Marci made their mark on the playing fields and in the classrooms by becoming standout student-athletes at Payson High School.
During Rush's early years in Payson, he developed an affinity for competitive archery and in 1987, was a member of the U.S. Olympic team entered in the recurve events.
He continued to excel in the sport, earning spots on the 2002, 2004 and 2006 United States Field Archery team.
His success in archery allowed him to travel worldwide, competing in Australia, Sweden and other European countries.
Rush continues to tout the benefits of the sport and last summer helped attract the Arizona State Archery Association Field Championships to the Tonto Rim Sports Club Jim Jones Shooting Range.
In retirement, Rush asks that he not be recognized for his accomplishments on the archery range, the college classroom, the football field or the jungles of Central America.
He says he rather be known as the small-town dentist who fondly cherishes the memories of a well-spent and memorable career.
A retirement reception for Dr. Rush will be held 2 to 6 p.m. Jan. 19 at Main Street Grille. The public is invited.