Dr. Joe B. Rushing

Obituaries in Brownwood, TX | Brownwood Bulletin
Obituaries in Brownwood, TX | Brownwood Bulletin

Dr. Joe B. Rushing

Dr. Joe B. Rushing, nationally-recognized leader in the junior/community college movement that began in the 1960s, died December 8 in Lampasas. Graveside services were held Saturday, December 11, at Oak Hill Cemetery in Lampasas. A memorial service is planned for a later date.

Keen of mind and spirit throughout his life, he celebrated his 100th birthday on May 23. He is survived by his daughter, Sherron Kulwin of Phoenix, AZ, and a son, Dr. Scott Rushing, a veterinarian in Lampasas. Preceding him in death were his wife, the former Elaine Whitis, in 2007 and a daughter, Cindy, in 2020.

A Brown County native with a hardscrabble rural upbringing by his mother and grandparents, he was one of a handful of people to found two multi-campus community colleges, including Broward Junior College in Fort Lauderdale, FL (1960) and Tarrant County Junior College (1965). During their 25-plus years in Fort Worth, the Rushings were active in community and church activities, and Dr. Rushing was a distinguished member of the Fort Worth Rotary Club, which he served as president and earned the distinction of being named a Paul Harris Fellow. He also was a Rotary District Governor, and during his term of office, he and Mrs. Rushing visited some 40 clubs on at least one occasion.

Dr. Rushing was a member of the Board of Directors of Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Texas, and was a trustee of the National Endowment for the Arts and Humanities, named to the post by President Gerald Ford. When TCJC (now Tarrant County College) opened its South Campus in 1967, about 2,500 students were expected to enroll. Instead, 4,272 registered, and this was believed to be the largest enrollment in history for a new junior college at the time. He oversaw the staffing, planning, construction and operation of TCJC's first three campuses, with enrollments exceeding 40,000 students. The college now has six campuses, and an enrollment of some 60,000. He and Mrs. Rushing retired to Lampasas, her hometown, in 1992.

A native of Brown County, he was a graduate of Blanket High School and Howard Payne College, where he later served as Administrative Vice President. Masters and Ph.D. degrees were attained later at East Texas State University and the University of Texas at Austin, respectively. His undergraduate work at HPC was interrupted by World War II. He served four years of active duty after volunteering for US Army Service, then served 21 years in the reserves. He had brief teaching stints in Mount Pleasant and Ranger Public Schools, and also held administrative posts at Ranger and Wharton Junior College before accepting the vice presidency at Howard Payne. In Brownwood, he was a member of the Brownwood ISD Board of Trustees, as well as a community and church leader.

Among his friends there was the late Groner Pitts, affable undertaker who organized what was called "The Brownwood Mafia," a civic-minded organization that supported worthwhile causes. Dr. Rushing was one of the early members. He was revered in Fort Worth, well known for his keen skills that helped TCJC to become a decorated community college. He made hundreds of speeches and presentations to groups of all types and sizes, always promoting the institution he loved.

"Unlike many leaders who place highest value of 'ivory tower status,' he was an open-collar, sleeves up kind of leader who enjoyed immense trust and respect," said Dr. Don Newbury, who was TCJC's Director of Community Relations from 1967-1980, and later Chancellor at Howard Payne. "By any measure, he was the best boss I ever had. The tenure during which he led TCJC was special indeed."

As early as four years of age, Dr. Rushing saw the value of education, even during kindergarten. He looked for and seized opportunities as soon as they were identified, despite being left fatherless at age 6. In all areas, he excelled.

A street near TCC South Campus bears his name, and his life was chronicled in a book written by Dr. Judith Carrier, who ultimately was president of the district's Southeast Campus. Dr. Rushing felt that his greatest accomplishment at TCJC was "setting the course of action, understanding what the college could be, setting up the organization, surrounding himself with smart people and letting them do their jobs."

This member of the Greatest Generation overcame many challenges, and throughout life, remained what he called an "incurable optimist." With deep interest in the history of World War II, he enrolled for numerous courses of interest well into his 90s. He was a welcome addition to classes where most students were 70-75 years his junior. With a Ph.D. long since part of his pedigree, he sought no additional credit, he felt honored and privileged to physically attend class whenever possible, and handling whatever assignments were required in the classes.

In lieu of flowers, the family is asking interested friends to consider gifts to the Joe and Elaine Rushing Scholarship Fund at TCC.

Posted online on December 13, 2021

Published in Brownwood Bulletin

Obituaries in Brownwood, TX | Brownwood Bulletin
Obituaries in Brownwood, TX | Brownwood Bulletin

Dr. Joe B. Rushing

Dr. Joe B. Rushing

Dr. Joe B. Rushing, nationally-recognized leader in the junior/community college movement that began in the 1960s, died December 8 in Lampasas. Graveside services were held Saturday, December 11, at Oak Hill Cemetery in Lampasas. A memorial service is planned for a later date.

Keen of mind and spirit throughout his life, he celebrated his 100th birthday on May 23. He is survived by his daughter, Sherron Kulwin of Phoenix, AZ, and a son, Dr. Scott Rushing, a veterinarian in Lampasas. Preceding him in death were his wife, the former Elaine Whitis, in 2007 and a daughter, Cindy, in 2020.

A Brown County native with a hardscrabble rural upbringing by his mother and grandparents, he was one of a handful of people to found two multi-campus community colleges, including Broward Junior College in Fort Lauderdale, FL (1960) and Tarrant County Junior College (1965). During their 25-plus years in Fort Worth, the Rushings were active in community and church activities, and Dr. Rushing was a distinguished member of the Fort Worth Rotary Club, which he served as president and earned the distinction of being named a Paul Harris Fellow. He also was a Rotary District Governor, and during his term of office, he and Mrs. Rushing visited some 40 clubs on at least one occasion.

Dr. Rushing was a member of the Board of Directors of Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Texas, and was a trustee of the National Endowment for the Arts and Humanities, named to the post by President Gerald Ford. When TCJC (now Tarrant County College) opened its South Campus in 1967, about 2,500 students were expected to enroll. Instead, 4,272 registered, and this was believed to be the largest enrollment in history for a new junior college at the time. He oversaw the staffing, planning, construction and operation of TCJC's first three campuses, with enrollments exceeding 40,000 students. The college now has six campuses, and an enrollment of some 60,000. He and Mrs. Rushing retired to Lampasas, her hometown, in 1992.

A native of Brown County, he was a graduate of Blanket High School and Howard Payne College, where he later served as Administrative Vice President. Masters and Ph.D. degrees were attained later at East Texas State University and the University of Texas at Austin, respectively. His undergraduate work at HPC was interrupted by World War II. He served four years of active duty after volunteering for US Army Service, then served 21 years in the reserves. He had brief teaching stints in Mount Pleasant and Ranger Public Schools, and also held administrative posts at Ranger and Wharton Junior College before accepting the vice presidency at Howard Payne. In Brownwood, he was a member of the Brownwood ISD Board of Trustees, as well as a community and church leader.

Among his friends there was the late Groner Pitts, affable undertaker who organized what was called "The Brownwood Mafia," a civic-minded organization that supported worthwhile causes. Dr. Rushing was one of the early members. He was revered in Fort Worth, well known for his keen skills that helped TCJC to become a decorated community college. He made hundreds of speeches and presentations to groups of all types and sizes, always promoting the institution he loved.

"Unlike many leaders who place highest value of 'ivory tower status,' he was an open-collar, sleeves up kind of leader who enjoyed immense trust and respect," said Dr. Don Newbury, who was TCJC's Director of Community Relations from 1967-1980, and later Chancellor at Howard Payne. "By any measure, he was the best boss I ever had. The tenure during which he led TCJC was special indeed."

As early as four years of age, Dr. Rushing saw the value of education, even during kindergarten. He looked for and seized opportunities as soon as they were identified, despite being left fatherless at age 6. In all areas, he excelled.

A street near TCC South Campus bears his name, and his life was chronicled in a book written by Dr. Judith Carrier, who ultimately was president of the district's Southeast Campus. Dr. Rushing felt that his greatest accomplishment at TCJC was "setting the course of action, understanding what the college could be, setting up the organization, surrounding himself with smart people and letting them do their jobs."

This member of the Greatest Generation overcame many challenges, and throughout life, remained what he called an "incurable optimist." With deep interest in the history of World War II, he enrolled for numerous courses of interest well into his 90s. He was a welcome addition to classes where most students were 70-75 years his junior. With a Ph.D. long since part of his pedigree, he sought no additional credit, he felt honored and privileged to physically attend class whenever possible, and handling whatever assignments were required in the classes.

In lieu of flowers, the family is asking interested friends to consider gifts to the Joe and Elaine Rushing Scholarship Fund at TCC.

Posted online on December 13, 2021

Published in Brownwood Bulletin