ESTES PARK, Colo. — Jane Rushing, Drake, Colo., died peacefully in the early morning hours Monday, Sept. 26, 2022, at Estes Park Hospital (EPH), Estes Park, Colo., following a three and a half year battle with breast cancer. She was 74. From the first discovery of a “mobile” lump in her right breast, Jane made the decision to forgo any surgeries or treatment. She was admitted to the EPH emergency room the day after Labor Day, and was treated with the utmost care, compassion and respect by EPH staff until her passing nearly three weeks later.
She was born Dec. 1, 1947, in Osage City, to Raymond and Ellen Nordling, and grew up hanging around the Nordling Motors Car Dealership owned by her parents, where her brother, Joe, performed the mechanical work and her brother, Tom, accomplished the body work. Her dad, Raymond, did most of the sales at that time, and her mother, Ellen, took care of all of the books and paperwork necessary to run a successful business, a trait passed down to Jane.
Jane graduated from Osage City High School in 1965. Following graduation, she worked at Victory Life Insurance, Topeka. In 1972, she met her future husband, Ken “Hoppy” Rushing, who was stationed at Forbes Air Force Base, Topeka. She moved to Loveland, Colo., in 1975, where she and Hoppy were married in February.
In Colorado, she worked as a bookkeeper and travel agent, and was tasked with training many employees during her employment at Rocky Mountain Travel King, Fort Collins, Colo., for many years, taking trips on the company’s behalf to Alaska, Hawaii and Mexico.
Jane and Hoppy also owned a crafts and plant store in Loveland in the late 1970s, and eventually purchased mountain property above Drake, in Cedar Springs. They worked on building their mountain home, spending weekends, vacations and holidays doing so, and then building a barn and fencing in the property to contain their horses, as well as a separate fence around their home for the dogs to enjoy the great Colorado outdoors. At the time of her passing, Jane and Hoppy had lived in the home they built for 37.5 years.
Jane and Hoppy also started Ken Rushing Photographic Services (KRPS) in 1996, a computer-based mapping and aerial photography business, working out of their Drake home. When she was not busy helping Hoppy with the business, Jane sewed, worked on hand-stitched quilts, knitted sweaters and other items, created Raggedy Ann and Raggedy Andy dolls, made personalized Christmas stockings, and “felted” bags of various sizes. Over the years, Jane produced a large catalog of various items with her sewing machine and quilting frame, and her knitting, but rarely sold any of her creations, preferring to gift them to family, friends and neighbors.
For many years, one of Jane’s great pleasures in life was to take a month-long vacation to visit her lifelong friend, Andy, in Topeka. She traveled with Andy and her husband to Florida and Kentucky, and to the Outer Banks for Andy’s daughter, Paige’s destination wedding to Ryan.
On Jane’s side of the family: “Our Dear Jane” was preceded in death by her father and mother; and her two brothers, Joseph Nordling and Thomas Nordling Sr. She is survived by two sisters-in-law, Carolyn Nordling, Osage City, and Helen Nordling, Erlanger, Ky.; nieces and nephews, Karen Schiltz (Randy), Erlanger Ky., Larry Nordling (Yoli), Roeland Park, Dave Nordling (Kathleen), Long Beach, Calif., and Thomas Nordling Jr., Osage City; great-nieces and great-nephews, Ethan, Logan, Joseph and Sophie; and her “sister,” Andy Spena (Gerold), Topeka.
On Hoppy’s side of the family: “Our Dear Jane” was preceded in death by her father- in- law, Grady Rushing; her mother- in- law, Jeanette Rushing; a nephew, Vincent Charles “Charlie” Calamusa; and a cousin, Karl Avery. She is survived by her husband, Hoppy; and her Louisiana, Texas and Colorado families, including her sister-in-law, Jeanette Boothe (Steve); brother-in-law, Vincent “Hershey” Calamusa Jr.; a nephew, Dan Hodge (Rhonda); a niece, Cher Walker (Darrell); great-nieces and great-nephews, Maria Harrington (Dan), Angela Campbell (Laramie), Kelli Cooley (Josh), Nicholas Lemoine (Leidy), Tyler Walker, Austin Lemoine (Brittney), Johnny Davis, and Matthew Davis (Jennifer); and great-great-nieces and great-great-nephews, Abbie, Fisher, Jessie, Jonah, Lyla, Lucy, Mia and Penelope. She also had a passionate and personable California cousin, Claire Jean Avery Thomas (George), who could make her laugh so hard she cried; and a dear friend and neighbor, Kathleen Solheim (George), whose own sense of humor and unique writing style kept Jane in good spirits.
Over the years, the family enjoyed Jane’s sense of humor, knowledge of politics, talent for quilting, and her love of all animals and birds, great and small, wild or domestic, as well as her unquenchable curiosity and passion about all things in life. She loved the beauty of a snowfall, when seen from the house, but not to drive in; she loved the gentle rain, but helped with the aftermath of the 1976 Big Thompson Flood, when there was too much of the wet stuff; she loved the warmth generated by the wood burning stove to heat the house, but was sickened by the destruction of lives and property caused by wildfires; she loved the sound of coyotes as they barked and yipped on the mountain, and sometimes around the house; and she could hear wild turkeys a-gobblin’ long before anyone could see them.
You would never have to wonder what Jane was thinking, because she would tell you. Cousin Jeanie summed it up beautifully: “If Jane Rushing was your friend, you would have one of God’s greatest gifts.”
Jane was honest, truthful, loyal and hardworking. She did not know how to tell a lie, traits instilled in her by her parents, and being raised in a small Kansas town.
Come on in Jane’s kitchen: If you left Jane’s kitchen hungry, it was not her fault. She was a “meat and potatoes kind of gal,” and a fabulous cook, always trying to improve even her own recipes. Her catalog of cooked meals included jambalaya, spaghetti with Italian sausage and meatballs, spaghetti with chicken, lasagna, chili, chicken enchiladas, red beans, chicken curry, chicken stew, fried chicken, shrimp stew, shrimp etouffee, fried shrimp, shrimp creole, meatloaf, pork chops, fried eggs with sausage and toast, pan-fried steak in butter with sautéed fresh mushrooms, Coca-Cola cake, baked breads, cookies, cinnamon rolls, and a host of other delicious foods. She learned to cook Southern dishes for Hoppy, who is from New Orleans, and left behind numerous frozen portions of some of the above dishes, to make sure he would be well fed. Jane was also a coffee lover, with her preferred blend being “New Orleans Famous French Market Coffee and Chicory,” which she drank several times a day, including a large mug in the early evening, before going to bed. She drank her coffee black and strong.
Her passion for life caused her biggest concern. She was always worried about others and their well-being before she was worried for herself. Her last communication with her husband, before she passed, was to ask him where Hurricane Ina was going to hit in Florida, as she had several friends who lived there, or had second homes there, and she was worried about their safety.
Vicki, a good friend of Jane’s, put a couple of pink streaks in her hair, on behalf of Jane and others in her life who are battling breast cancer, as October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. One of these ladies, Suzie, called all of these courageous women “Pink Warriors.”
Jane asked that there be no memorial or funeral service for her, as she never liked to be made a fuss over, and that people remember her as she was when they knew her and last saw her or last talked to her, and that her cremated remains be laid to rest on the property of her mountain home, beside the resting places of her beloved horses and dogs, under a lone pine tree, surrounded by mountains, blue sky and the great Colorado outdoors.
Memorial contributions, per Jane’s request, may be made to The Gratitude Program to benefit the Estes Park Hospital and sent to Estes Park Health Foundation, P.O. Box 3650, Estes Park, CO 80517.
Condolences may be left at AllnuttEstesPark.com.