William Arthur Rush passed away peacefully on April 17, 2023 in Eureka. He was 86 years old. He was well cared for and comfortable when he died. He loved life with passion, enthusiasm, and vigor in his early life. He was brave, bold, had a strong personality, and was multi-talented.

William was born on August 25, 1936 in Hollywood. His mother, Mary Jo was an actress during the early Hollywood heyday. Arthur, his father, was a talent manager for many celebrities, including Roy Rogers, Nelson Eddy, Mario Lanza, and others. Both of his parents descended from signers of the Declaration of Independence. His genealogy connects him to knights in the old British Isles, as well!

His brother, Robert Rush, who lives currently in southern California, says, “Bill loved flying. He got his pilot’s license on his 16th birthday. He had three big auto accidents before he was twenty. He had his driver’s license suspended for six to eight months. He could not drive but he could still fly. He was a good artist. He did some medical drawings of surgeries on human bodies that were published for medical articles.”

Bill Rush explored many other skills throughout his life, such as being a leader in the ROTC and owning a bike repair business as a youth. He studied landscape design, and was a US Air Guard fighter pilot in the 1950s. He also studied architecture at University of Southern California. While he was there, he also provided the N.A.S.A. Space Medicine Program with the creative flow of ideas and answers that made such a success of this country’s manned space flights. During his work with NASA, his mentor, Dr. Patrick Meehan, encouraged Bill to pursue a career in medicine. He graduated from George Washington University with a medical degree in 1967.

William was a general surgeon, performing mostly gastrointestinal procedures. He loved his work, and wanted to share his passion for how the human body functions and heals. He excelled in his field and was famous for designing and cutting custom, artistic surgical bandages that made his patients smile. His amazing drawings intrigued all as he expertly explained the intricacies of his practice and knowledge.

In addition to his duties at the hospital and as President of the San Jose Surgical Society, he was also a volunteer first responder to several hundred car accidents on one of the most dangerous roads in California, Highway 17, in the Santa Cruz mountains. He listened to emergency radio channels on a police scanner under his pillow at night! When he heard the responder code, he was off to the rescue, no matter what the hour. He had a portable red flashing light on his car to disperse traffic in order to save lives. Paramedic, police and fire departments in the area dubbed him “The White Knight”, as his white car was often the first on the scene. (See San Jose Mercury article, written by Steve Lopez, from September 2, 1984, “A Good Man on a Wicked Road”, attached.)

He developed and coordinated disaster preparedness plans and large-scale disaster preparedness events in the Bay area. His emergency preparedness works were published in regional phone books.

He loved collecting tools, gadgets, innovative inventions, and the newest tech. His favorite slogan was, “He who dies with the most toys wins!”

Later in life, he developed many health challenges, but he was well cared for by his family and teams of caregivers.

William is survived by his wife Linda, who was his primary caregiver for many years, as well as his children, Ben and Annalisa, his younger brother, Robert, and five grandchildren, Makena, Kai, Leif, Noa, and Loren. They are grateful that he saved so many lives, including family members. They are so thankful for his ethic of service, hard work, and responsibility. They will cherish many fond memories of summer parties, family adventures, harrowing tales, survival in the mountains, his goofy side, his resourcefulness, wealth of knowledge, passion for life, healing hands, and his many talents.

Thanks from family to the many heroes with whom he partnered. The Rushes greatly appreciate all the emergency personnel who worked with him to make our Santa Cruz mountain community safer and more connected through preparedness, rescues and trauma responses. Thanks to all of his patient and wonderful caregivers in his final months. Thanks to all the Eureka Timber Ridge Assisted Living staff who helped him be as comfortable as possible in the final four months if his life. Bill’s family also extends special thanks to Hospice of Humboldt, who helped immensely; Molly, Katelyn, Dylan, and Scotty provided so much support and loving care to Bill and his family.

At one time, Bill’s original wish for his memorial service was to have an air force flyover and a 12-gun, military, formal salute, which he deserved! However, Dr. Bill (as he preferred to be addressed late in his life), eventually decided he not want any service. His family will conduct a private one in the future.

His family does not want any gifts, but suggest that donations be made in Dr. William Rush’s honor to Hospice of Humboldt, located at 3327 Timber Fall Ct, Eureka, CA 95503. Local volunteer fire departments, neighborhood emergency groups, HAM radio operators, or other first responder or disaster preparedness organizations of choice would be other worthy sources to which honorary contributions can be made.


The obituary above was submitted on behalf of Bill Rush’s loved ones. The Lost Coast Outpost runs obituaries of Humboldt County residents at no charge. See guidelines here. Email news@lostcoastoutpost.com.