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Marianne Childress Rusk of Bel Air, California, loving wife of 61 years to Dr. Jeremy W. Rusk, cherished mother to Michelle Rusk, Ian Rusk, and Kristin Rusk Robinson, their spouses Mark Jones, Carolann Rusk, and Grant Robinson, and beloved “Mimi” to six grandchildren, Alexandra and Samuel Jones, Heather, Chloe, and Aidan Rusk, and Caleb Robinson, passed peacefully in Los Angeles with her family by her side.
Marianne was born on a farm near Archie, Missouri, the daughter of Stephen T. Childress, a history teacher and athletic coach, and Virginia Dudley Childress, who taught two generations from first through eighth grades in a one-room country schoolhouse. The family, which included older brother Dudley and younger brother Samuel later moved to Harrisonville, Missouri. Marianne attended Harrisonville High School (’54) where her father Stephen served as coach for several sports, teacher, and principal. While in high school, Marianne was a member of the girls basketball team and selected as homecoming queen. She was inducted into the Harrisonville High School Distinguished Alumni Hall of Fame in 2009. Marianne and her family were members of First Baptist Church in Harrisonville. Marianne graduated from Baylor University with a B.A. in Psychology in 1958, where she met and married Jeremy shortly after graduation.
Marianne began her career in 1962 at the Graduate School of Education at Harvard University. While at Harvard, she served three years as a Senior Resident at Radcliffe College and was assistant to the director of the Masters in Teaching Program. In 1971 Marianne and Jeremy were sent to England to establish and develop Harlaxton College, a new study abroad program in a grand castle in Lincolnshire, England. Marianne’s role in Student Relations was critically important to the successful launch of the college program, which is still thriving in its 47th year.
Returning from England in 1975, Marianne took a position at Abt Associates, a social science think tank in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where she served as assistant to the President and Assistant Director of Human Resources. In 1982, she was recruited by Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts, where she eventually became the school’s first woman Vice President, head of Human Resources.
In 1991, the J. Paul Getty Trust in Los Angeles drafted Marianne to serve as Director of Human Resources, one of several key executives responsible for developing the Getty’s grand museum and trust programs on a mountaintop in Brentwood. The President of the Trust, Harold Williams, and the key executives considered her essential to the growth and development of the new Getty campus. She was respected and adored by all at the Getty from the security guards who greeted her each morning to the entire Human Resources staff – her second family. At her retirement at age 75, the Getty President captured her essence as a “wonderful blend of caring and judgment, of compassion and equity, of knowledge and wisdom, without ego or fanfare, soft-spoken with a smile, yet tough when necessary.”
Marianne had many passions: including tennis, running 10ks, Celtics basketball, morning walks in the hills of Bel Air, Santa Monica ocean sunsets, hummingbirds feeding outside the kitchen window, morning glories and family gatherings on Nantucket. Each of these she met joyfully with her infectious laughter.
A funeral service will be held at Brown & Hickey Funeral Home, 36 Trapelo Road, Belmont, Massachusetts on Saturday, September 1 at 2:00 p.m. Details on the date and location of a later memorial service to be held in Los Angeles will be posted soon.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Jeremy W. Rusk (Account No. 8003037804) Comerica Bank for transfer to The Marianne C. and Jeremy W. Rusk Foundation, dedicated to health and education in the developing world. Comerica Bank MC4595 1021 Glendon Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90024.