Aug. 13, 1929-Feb. 5, 2019
MAPLE GROVE — Alvin Neal Rusk “Al” of Maple Grove passed away peacefully on Feb. 5, 2019, at the age of 89 just 19 days after the death of his beloved wife of 63 years. He was a loving father, grandfather and great-grandfather with an insatiable curiosity that kept him learning new things until the day he died. He took great pride in his family and loved to follow and research the adventures of his grandkids to better understand their lives.
Al was born Aug. 13, 1929, in Wellington, Kansas. He graduated from high school in 1948 and became the first Rusk to enroll in college. Just before his senior year at Emporia State Teachers College in Emporia, Kansas, he was drafted and sent to Officer’s Candidate School in Fort Belvoir, Virginia. He was eventually stationed in Bavaria, West Germany, and spent time building and tearing down bridges on the Danube. Upon discharge from the army he went back to Emporia to complete his degree in physics and mathematics. It was there that he met a young music major named Marilyn Joan “Jo” Elliott and the two were married on July 31, 1955. They were blessed with four children: Kathy in 1957, Cindy in 1958, James in 1960 and Jennifer in 1963. He received his master’s degree in physics from the University of Iowa and his PhD in physics from Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas. He accepted a position as a physics professor at Southwest State University in 1970 and remained there until retirement in 1992. While there he was able to pursue his passion in photography and astronomy. Throughout his life he could be found tinkering around his garage creating and building playground equipment, campers, playhouses, bridges and birdhouses many times from scrap material he found in dumpsters. He was dumpster diving years before anyone coined the phrase.
During retirement, Al and Jo travelled the country in their motor home visiting 45 states including Alaska. They settled for a time in Casa Grande, Arizona, before settling in Maple Grove in the fall of 2006.
Al is survived by daughters Kathy (Dean) Buysse of Woodland Park, Colo., Cindy (Doug) Schnittgen of Oklee, Jennifer (Todd) Ellingson of Maple Grove and son James (Shannon) Rusk of Edina; grandchildren include Brad (Angie) Buysse, Megan (Josh) Driessen, Sam, Dylan and Anna Rusk and Rachel, Grace and Natalie Ellingson; and great-grandchildren include Braxton and Brooklyn Driessen.
The family will have a private prayer service at Silver Creek on Main in Maple Grove. In lieu of flowers, please consider donating to Our Lady of Peace Hospice in St. Paul.