Georgia Rush, 96, employee at hospital

July 30, 1996|By Rafael Alvarez | Rafael Alvarez,SUN STAFF

For most of the 20th century, Georgia Rush was a quiet legend at Mercy Medical Center. Since 1925, there was almost no one at Mercy who did not know the West Baltimorean, and of those who did, virtually no one who did not love her.

Although Mrs. Rush's job title was housekeeper, the profoundly religious Baptist became a loving den mother to generations of young doctors, nurses, nuns and interns. She listened to their heartaches, shared in their joy, made their beds and sewed buttons on their uniforms.

"I never saw Miss Georgia discouraged," said Dr. Joseph Notarangelo, who met Mrs. Rush as a intern in the early 1960s and became her longtime personal physician. "I think the secret to her long life was a balanced temperament. She was above worrying about life's odds and ends the way the rest of us do. She said the good Lord would take care of us."

Georgia Rush died of circulatory problems Friday at Stella Maris Hospice in Towson at 96. She was the kind of woman who would take flowers off the altar after services at her church and lug them onto a transit bus to give to sick people at hospitals throughout the city. Formally retired in 1991, she volunteered at Mercy until April.

Marveled one doctor: "How many people do you know still walking around at that age, still employed?"

Sister Mary Thomas, the hospital's retired president, said: "I've known her for over 50 years and she radiated goodness -- a woman who was full of wisdom and knowledge who loved people and loved her God. She was just an unusual person. I just came from the funeral parlor, and one of our employees who knew her real well said: 'I've known Georgia for many years and if you didn't know your religion before you talked to her, you knew it after.' "

Raised by a grandmother who was a former slave, the former Georgia Beckett was born on the Eastern Shore of Virginia on Jan. 12, 1900. She arrived in Maryland as a teen-ager and is believed to have been working on and off at Mercy as early as 1915 before being hired full time in 1925. She married Prophet Rush, bearing him one child, a son. Mr. Rush died in the 1940s, and the son, whose name was not known by Mrs. Rush's friends, has been dead for years. She lived alone and left no survivors.

A longtime resident of North Fremont Avenue, Mrs. Rush divided her life almost equally between Mercy and Providence Baptist Church at 1401 Pennsylvania Ave., where services for "Mother Rush" will be held 7 p.m. today.

"I've been her pastor for 44 years, and helping people was something she felt dedicated to do every day," said the Rev. Marcus Wood. "She regularly visited every person on our sick list until her health failed, but you would never know she was a giver because she made no fuss about it. She just gave, liberally."

Buelah Johnson was a friend from church who knew Mrs. Rush for nearly 40 years.

"She always would tell me about being a peacemaker, that blessed are the peacemakers," said Ms. Johnson, who praised Mrs. Rush for helping put her son through divinity school. "If she had wronged anyone, she would go back and apologize. She learned it from her grandmother many, many years ago."

One of the two requests in a 1974 letter that Mrs. Rush left behind was that her wake be in the evening so all of her working friends could attend and that she be buried in her white deaconess uniform.

"I looked all over but I could not find her uniform," said Ms. Johnson. "So she'll be buried in mine."

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Pub Date: 7/30/96

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