My beloved mother, Sherry Rusch, died peacefully in her sleep the evening of July 18, 2022. She was 66 years old.
She was diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia, far too young, several years ago.
I had lovely times with her toward the end of her life. She knew who I was, and even told me she loved me, up until she lost consciousness a few days before her death.
My mom was born June 16, 1956 in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, to Harland Rusch and Jean Block. She was the eldest of three sisters: Sherry, Shelly and Susie. She grew up in a house overlooking Lake Michigan, a place she maintained a strong connection with throughout her life.
When I asked what she was like as a child, her sister Shelly wrote: “Sherry was inquisitive, curious and timelessly conversational. My mom used to say that they had a second child (me) just so Sherry would have someone else to talk to. She loved animals, music, coloring and drawing. She also loved to babysit as she got older (which is something I could never understand), she was good at devising games, play and activities for younger kids, including me …”
My mom was incredibly caring and nurturing, and was continuing her education at Cal State Fullerton in order to become a counselor when the disease began to incapacitate her.
In high school, she sang in the choir. She had a beautiful voice and an incredible ear. My mom and I would sing together in the car, often to popular and alternative music like the White Stripes and Sublime. Sometimes to American folk and country like Simon and Garfunkel and the “O’Brother Where Art Thou” soundtrack. “Keep on the Sunnyside” is one of the songs I sang to her shortly before her death. Her ability to harmonize with anything was enviable.
After graduating with her bachelor’s degree in psychology, she and her two best friends drove from Wisconsin to San Diego. It was the ‘70s and they were very cool. My mom was always very cool; always ahead of every trend. She also was ahead of her time when it came to human rights and social justice ideology and activism.
In San Diego, she met interesting people, went rollerblading on the boardwalk and explored (then, little-known) remote, natural areas like the Palm Groves of Anza Borrego State Park.
My mom lived in Denmark where she taught English; New York City where she did activist work for refugees and AIDs patients, and worked on a special edition of Tiffany Magazine. That’s also where she met one of the loves of her life, Richard.
She lived in Germany where she fell in love with and married her first husband, a German man, Stephan, and maintained a friendship with him for the rest of her life.
She eventually moved back to San Diego, where she met and married my father, Geary Hund. He was a conservationist and park ranger at the time, and they bonded over their shared love of nature and all living things.
In 1994 they moved to Idyllwild. My mom cherished this community and the wonderful friendships she made here.
She was an incredible mother. She taught me how to love, how to write, how to forge my own path, and how to be a good person, who advocates for those without a voice. She celebrated and encouraged my precociousness and non-conformity. She was incredibly intelligent, adventurous, and gregarious, with the best laugh and the best sense of humor. She was the ultimate good-samaritan. She was a teacher and a healer who helped so many people … she was an absolute light in this world.
It will forever be tragic the way her life ended, but looking back at the entirety of her life — what a life well-lived. Rest in peace my dear mother, Sherry Rusch. Thank you for blessing us all with your beautiful soul, from your daughter, Kathryn Hund.
A memorial service will be held at Saint Hugh’s Episcopal Church at 4 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 20. A reception will follow from 5:15 to 6:30 p.m. at 27180 Meadowlark Road.