Rush Spencer Smith (Capt. USN Ret.) died on October 26th 2016 at age 91. Born February 11th 1925 in Gastonia, NC, he was the son of the late Armistead Burwell and Ruby Spencer Smith.
He was predeceased by his daughter Emily, son Gary Hamilton, brother Armistead Burwell Smith Jr. (Capt. USN Ret) and loving wife of 46 years, Frances Pease Smith.
In 1992 he wed Louise Johnson Brady and is survived by his devoted wife of 26 years, his sons Rush Jr. and Andrew, seven grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
Rush had an early interest in aviation making his first solo flight when he was 16. While a student at Davidson College he joined the Naval Aviation Cadet program in 1943 and received his Navy wings at 20. From Pensacola he reported to NAS Ft. Lauderdale for Operational Training in TBM torpedo bombers. It was there he met and married Frances Pease.
After a brief tour in a replacement squadron and an even shorter honeymoon he reported Yonabaru, Okinawa. In 1947 he joined an NAS Oceana-based torpedo squadron attached to the USS Sicily (CVE-118) which at the time had the only fully night-qualified Air Group on the East Coast.
Subsequent sea duty assignments included 4 CV/CVA carrier attack squadrons, Navigator, seaplane tender USS Floyd’s Bay (AVP-40) and aircraft carrier USS Forrestal (CVA-59). He served as Commanding Officer of VA-22, USS Uvalde (KA-88) and USS Nitro (AE-23).
Significant shore duty assignments include General Line School, Newport, RI; Armed Forces Staff College, Norfolk, VA; Advanced Flight Instructor, Corpus Christi,TX; Naval Aviation Ordnance Test, Chincoteague, VA; Special Weapons Test, Albuquerque, NM; Office of Chief of Naval Operations; and Office of Joint Chiefs of Staff, from which he retired in 1971.
Rush and family chose Virginia Beach for retirement, working as an associate real estate broker with Anchor Realty and Hudgins Real Estate.
He enjoyed golfing for years but his great passion was fishing and cruising the Inland Waterway with his wife. He claimed to be a great conservationist because the fish were safe as long as he was trying to catch them.
The day he passed he and Louise had shopped, had brunch at the Beach Pub and a bowl of ice cream and a loving neighbor’s cookies. He danced at his grandson’s wedding and every chance he got. The twinkle in his eye and his moves on the floor were only part of his charm.
He read everything voraciously but loved biographies and histories. He was a friend to everyone who had the great fortune to know him. We are grateful for his life and his impact on the lives of countless others.
A memorial service will be held in the St. Aidan’s Episcopal Church, 3201 Edinburgh Dr., Virginia Beach, 11am, Saturday, 11/5/16 followed by an interment at the St. Aidan’s columbarium. Reception to follow.
In lieu of flowers please give to the charity of your choice .
Published in The Virginian Pilot on Oct. 30, 2016