By Michelle Wagner | Outer Banks Voice on July 30, 2021
101-year-old matriarch leads family reunion
The Outer Banks has long been a destination for families who travel from near and far to come together and enjoy family time here. But this week, one family reunion being held on the Outer Banks is particularly noteworthy.
The Rush family – made up of 101-year-old Anne Marie “Mimi” Rush of Dayton, Ohio, her six children, 13 grandchildren and 26 great grandchildren (with one more on the way), along with spouses – have traveled by car and by plane from six different states to spend the week together in Nags Head.
Spread out between two condos and two vacation rental homes in Nags Head, the Rush family arrived on July 24 for a week. The family typically holds their family reunion in Ohio every two years. But this year, they decided to do things a little differently, and they’ve enjoyed the Outer Banks so much that family members say they will likely make this their new reunion destination.
Each year, the family has a reunion T-shirt made, designed by a graphic artist in the family. This year’s motto is “Beware of the Rush.”
Anne Marie Rush, during an interview with the Voice, said that since her family arrived here, they have had a surprise birthday party for her son, Bob, and she was able to visit the Wright Brothers National Memorial and even get out on the beach a few times.
Anne Marie was able to get on the sand with the help of a beach wheelchair and while she was hesitant at first to go, she was ready to go back to the beach to enjoy it with her family. Of her great grandchildren, she said, “They love the sand, but the water has been a little bit too cold for the young ones.”
Rush’s daughter, Sharon Leishear, said the family spent the week kayaking, playing on the beach, paddle boarding, parasailing, visiting the lighthouses and a dolphin tour as well as plenty of large family dinners. “All too soon the good times will end, but the memories will last forever,” she said. “And the many pictures will help those memories stay fresh. Saying goodbye to such a wonderful place will be so difficult.”
Originally from Frankfort, Kentucky, Anne Marie was lucky enough to have everyone in her family except one grandchild and one great grandchild at the reunion. Born on March 6, 1920, she was married to Army Colonel Roger Samuel Rush, who died in 1994 of ALS. During the course of his career in the Army, the couple and their children were stationed in Germany twice – once at the end of World War II in Heidelberg and then Garmisch, and later in Stuttgart.
Her son, Bob Rush, said that his mother traveled on an army transport with three children under the age of four on her second relocation to Germany, where her husband was stationed. Rush graduated from Nazareth College in Louisville, Kentucky, which has since been renamed as Spalding University.
Bob Rush added that his mom moved close to 15 times over the course of her life. “She got to see the world,” he noted.
This isn’t Anne Marie’s first time on the Outer Banks. She had been here before with her husband. While Rush can’t remember the exact year she and Roger were on the Outer Banks, she remembers visiting the Wright Brothers National Memorial and also the wild horses in Corolla.
And based on this week’s successful reunion with her family at a new venue, Rush and her family appear to be ready to return again in two years to enjoy time together in North Carolina.
“Mom’s been a trooper,” Bob Rush asserted, in what appears to be a major understatement.