John Rush Pierce Sr., of Georgetown, Texas, died Thursday, Oct. 27, 2022. Rush, affectionately known to friends and family as “Boss”, was 93 and, until the last few weeks of his life, was independent, driving, living on his own, and making his own meals. Rush was a physician, clinical professor, Navy veteran, Boy Scout, and church leader, father, grandfather, and great grandfather.
Rush was born Feb. 4, 1929 in Dallas, Texas, to Graham L. Pierce and Elizabeth Weaver Pierce. He grew up in Dallas during the Great Depression. He attended Highland Park High School, where he was active in sports and excelled academically. He was an Eagle Scout. After high school, he attended Southern Methodist University, was elected to Phi Beta Kappa and finished in two years by taking extra classes and going to summer school. He then enrolled in the newly formed Southwestern Medical School in Dallas. He met Amanda Allen on a blind date and immediately they fell in love. They married June 10, 1951, and remained married for 63 years until Amanda passed away.
After graduating from Southwestern, Rush completed a fellowship and began a residency in internal medicine with Dr. Tinsley Harrison in Birmingham, Alabama. His medical training was interrupted by military service in Jacksonville, Florida, where he served as a lieutenant in the Navy. After two years, he and his young family returned to Dallas to complete his medical residency.
In 1958, Rush, Amanda, and their sons moved to Arlington, a small, fast-growing community in north Texas. There, Rush opened a practice in internal medicine, which continued for 35 years and included up to five different partners. He served as Clinical Professor of Medicine at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School, President of the medical staff at Arlington Memorial Hospital, and President of the Arlington Branch of the Tarrant County Medical Society. In 1993, Rush became Medical Director of a new Veterans Administration Clinic in Fort Worth and served in that role until his retirement in 1997.
In Arlington, Rush and Amanda raised their four boys, Rush Jr., Ben, Frank, and Scott. Rush was a leader in the Boy Scouts. He took Scout groups on high adventure trips to the Quetico wilderness of Canada and to Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico. He and his family often spent their summers in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains near Red River, New Mexico, where they hiked. Rush was active in several churches and taught Sunday School for many years.
After retirement, Rush and Amanda moved to Granbury, Texas, and later to Georgetown, Texas. They spent their summers in the mountains of northern New Mexico, where Rush developed a passion for photography and nature. They were active in the Red River summer community and had many friends there. Upon Amanda’s death, Rush established the Amanda Pierce Nature Fund at the Red River Community House, which sponsors nature camps for children, wildflower walks, and other nature projects for the community.
Family was important to Rush. He and Amanda held an annual “Cousin Camp” for their grandchildren, where the kids slept outside, swam, did crafts, and had special events. Later, they held regular “Cousin Dinners” at their house for the grandchildren. Rush loved to write and authored several books about northern New Mexico, including a hiking guide, a guide to mountain wildflowers, and a history of Red River. Later, he researched and wrote short essays on interesting people, places, and events, which he mailed to family and friends. He was an avid photographer, taking beautiful pictures of mountains, wildlife, and flowers.
Rush was preceded in death by his parents, Graham and Elizabeth Pierce, brother, Graham Pierce Jr., sister, Eugenia Pierce Krause, and his wife, Amanda Pierce. He is survived by son, Rush Pierce Jr. and wife Diane Goodwin, son, Ben Pierce and wife, Marlene Tyrrell, son, Frank Pierce, son, Scott Pierce, and multiple grandchildren and great-grandchildren. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations can be made to the Amanda Pierce Nature Fund, Red River New Mexico Community House at www.redrivercommunityhouse.org.
J. Rush Pierce – Red River Loses A Treasure
By Rob Swan
I remember attending speaking events that Rush would give in the Community House about the history of Red River and Northern New Mexico. Rush spent his retirement years compiling Red River history into speeches, pamphlets and a book entitled “Red River City – A History of Northern New Mexico, 1800 to 2000.” Rush’s speeches were engaging and incredibly interesting, especially for a kid who spent a portion of my youth exploring every old mine, encampment, and ghost town I could find in the area. I was always fascinated by the things I would find but never really understood the history behind them until I started reading Rush’s writings and attending his speaking engagements.
Unless history is documented it will be lost in time. Rush did more than his share in helping to preserve Red River history and for that, our town will be eternally grateful.