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Many people still miss John Rush

Sept. 15, 2012, marked the one-year anniversary of the death of one of the most beautiful human beings I have ever known.

John Rush was an auto mechanic who ran Charleston Import Service on the West Side. He first started taking care of my family's cars about 1973.

After we met John, I don't think my family bought another vehicle that he wouldn't work on. In time, cousins, aunts, uncles and many friends would bring their cars to John for repair. He was honest, fair and talented.

He had red hair and a red beard that he cut once a year. His shop on Tennessee Avenue, next to Tony Wegmann's auto parts, resembled an army barracks. He had a sign that said something like:

Labor $20 per hour, $30 per hour if you watch, $50 per hour if you help.

He worked his own schedule and got stuff done promptly, yet he always had time to diagnose a problem or have a cup of coffee. My Mother would call or go see John whenever her car made a new noise. He would take it from there.

My first car was a used red 1976 Toyota Celica GT. After I'd owned the car awhile, it threw a rod. I didn't have much money and John knew it.

He brought the Celica into the shop, opened up the hood, looked at me, and said "Take this, this and this off and come get me."

This went on for a while, but before long I couldn't do anymore. He said he'd finish it. He never charged me for tearing down the engine.

I'd call him nights, weekends and holidays to diagnose problems with my cars.

One time I pulled into the lot on Tennessee Avenue with the Charleston Police behind me, lights on. The little sticker on my license was the wrong color. John got a kick out of that.

Years ago, a group of us used to play basketball at my church every week. John Rush was older and slower than the rest of us and hadn't played much basketball prior to that time.

But he was a regular and nobody enjoyed it more than he did.

When we were thinking we'd played our last game of the evening, John would look at us younger guys and say "one more." We couldn't say no.

He is gone but not forgotten.

Daniel Barber



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