Nov. 1, 1925-Sept. 29, 2019
Services celebrating the life of Benjamin McGraw Rush will be at Ellerbe Baptist Church Thursday, Oct. 3 at 2:30 p.m. with Pastor Dennis Sims officiating.Interment will follow at Forest Park East Cemetery. Visitation will be at Kilpatrick’s Rose-Neath Funeral Home, 1815 Marshall St., Shreveport, Wednesday, Oct. 2 from 4–7 p.m.
Dr. Benjamin McGraw Rush, 93, was called home to begin his life everlasting with our heavenly Father Sept. 29, 2019. He was born Nov. 1, 1925, in Vaughn, Miss., to Dr. Benjamin Clarence Rush and Celia Perry Rush.
He was preceded in death by his parents; his sisters, Susie Rush Smith and Clarine Rush Bradford; brothers-in-law, Hugh Cam Smith, Jack Bradford and Ray Drake; wife, Doris Jean Huckabay Rush; infant daughter, Jane Rush; and son-in-law, William Edward Kolodzey.
He is survived by his wife of 37 years, Mary Jane Drake Rush; three children, Celia Rush, Benjamin Theis Rush and Dr. Jill Rush Kolodzey; son-in-law, Robert Baumann; step-daughters, Donna Caple Higgins and Debbie Caple Williamson; eight grandchildren, Ruth Baumann Vega and husband Richard, Bobby Baumann, Benny Baumann and wife Shushanna, William Kolodzey Rush and wife Hannah, Chandler Higgins, Carter Higgins, Perry Wilkins and Parker Williamson; and four great-grandchildren, Anna Lynn Rush, Alex DelaRiva, and Selina and Sofia Vega; and numerous nieces and nephews.
In 1943, at the age of 17, Dr. Rush voluntarily enrolled in the Army Specialized Training Program. While attending North Carolina State University, the war had intensified and he as well as the other volunteers in ASTP were sent to boot camp and later assigned to the 347thCombat Infantry of the 87thInfantry Division. He was shipped to the European theater shortly thereafter. These soldiers fought in the Ardennes, Central Europe and Rhineland Campaigns. They fought back the German counteroffensive as part of Patton’s 3rdArmy in the well-known and well chronicled Battle of the Bulge. Of the original 12 men in his company, Dr. Rush and one other soldier were the only survivors at the end of their campaign.
In 1945, Dr. Rush left the Army after earning his promotion to 2ndLieutenant and was also decorated with a Purple Heart, Bronze Star and Combat Infantry Badge. In appreciation for his role and personal sacrifices in the liberation of France, Dr. Rush was recognized at a special ceremony by the French government in 2010, naming him a ‘Chevalier’ of the Legion of Honor. The Legion of Honor is France’s highest award of distinction.
After the war, Dr. Rush returned to the United States. He completed his education at the University of Mississippi in 1949 and graduated from LSU New Orleans Medical School in 1951. He began his internship at Shreveport Charity Hospital which began his long history of association with the LSU system that spanned a period of six decades. Dr. Rush completed his surgical residency and fellowship at both EA Conway Memorial Hospital and Ochsner Clinic in 1959. He was double boarded in general and colorectal surgery.
Dr. Rush always referred to himself as a “gypsy surgeon.” He was an instructor in Surgery at Tulane School of Medicine in 1958. He practiced General Surgery and Proctology in Lake Charles from 1959-65 and was then head of Department of Colon and Rectal Surgery at Monroe Clinic in Monroe, Wis., from 1965-72.
In 1972, he returned to Louisiana and started his private practice in Coushatta as the only surgeon at the L.S. Huckabay Memorial Hospital and also the Frazier Hospital in Many. His practice flourished and he established himself as a leader in the community. However, he wasn’t quite satisfied being just a successful surgeon. In 1973, Dr. Rush also joined LSU Department of Surgery as a Clinical Assistant Professor. In 1989, he accepted the position of Vice-Chairman of the Department of Surgery at LSU Medical Center. He served in that capacity until 2004 at which time he became Chief of Surgical Services at the Overton Brooks VA Medical Center until 2007, when he retired. Dr. Rush holds the distinguished appointment of Professor Emeritus with the LSUHSC Department of Surgery.
Over the years, Dr. Rush has taught, guided and mentored numerous medical students, surgical residents and faculty members. He had a passion for teaching medical students and mentoring and training surgery residents. He also loved writing memories of his early life, experiences as a combat infantryman, his family, his faith and his belief in God and many other incidents that he referred to as phrases or poetry. He was appointed the Poet Laureate of LSU Medical Center.
Throughout his career, he was extensively published and received numerous awards and recognitions for not only his contributions to medicine but also from graduating medical school classes and finishing surgical residents. Dr. Rush was a member of the Shreveport Medical Society where he received the SMS Distinguished Service Award. He was named the recipient of The H. Whitney Boggs Professorship Chair in Colon and Rectal Surgery, The Ephraim McDowell Award for Christian Excellence in Medicine and was a member of Alpha Omega Alpha. He was a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons.
Dr. Rush grew up in the hills of Mississippi on a farm owned by his grandfather which began his love of nature. His land and his livestock were always dear to his heart. He delighted in sharing his time, wisdom and expertise with family, friends, cattlemen and fellow physicians. Poppa, as he was lovingly referred to by his grandchildren, always enjoyed being on his farm in Coushatta with his family. Many fun-filled hours were spent there teaching the grandchildren how to fish, hunt and ride four-wheelers. He was the epitome of a true Southern Gentleman Surgeon.
Dr. Rush was a member of Ellerbe Baptist Church and was also a 32nddegree Master Mason.
Honoring Dr. Rush as pallbearers are Dr. Donnie Aultman, Dr. Wyche Coleman, Dr. Lester Johnson, Dr. Anil Nanda, Dr. Lou Smith and Dr. Gazi Zabari.
Serving as honorary pallbearers will be Dr. Greg Bell, Dr. Roy Clay, Dr. Ghali E. Ghali, Dr. Robert Hernandez, William Huckabay, Dr. Danny Lew, Dr. Robert McMillian, Joe Miciotto, Dr. Kevin Sittig, Dr. Jimmy Smith, Dr. Fred Stucker, Dr. Fred Willis and all the surgical residents he ever trained.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made in Dr. Rush’s honor to Ellerbe Baptist Church, 10705 Ellerbe Road, Shreveport, LA 71106, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, 262 Danny Thomas Place, Memphis, TN 38105 or Shriner’s Hospital for Children, 3100 Samford Ave., Shreveport, LA 71103.