ALEXANDRIA, VA – Em Sutton Rusch, née Holland, peacefully went to what she called her great reward on October 15, 2023. She was an educator, a distinguished member of her community, and beloved friend, wife, and mother.
After a tranquil childhood in Franklin, Virginia, she went to Madison College, where she was a member of Alpha Sigma Alpha sorority and graduated Magna Cum Laude. Although reserved, Em was adventurous – she took her first flight to teach school on Kindley Air Force Base on Bermuda where she met the dashing Lt. Alfred E. T. Rusch, her husband of sixty years. She called him “Bun”, he called her “Baby”.
In the early years of their marriage, she supported him by teaching while he attended Fordham Law School. Following law school, he was a federal prosecutor at the Securities and Exchange Commission and they lived in Alexandria, Virginia where they resided for fifty-seven years and raised their son Ted. On October 15, Bun returned Baby’s wedding ring which had been removed due to swelling a few weeks earlier. They shared a nice afternoon together – she chuckled when he tried to sing to her. Alert until the end, gazing at Bun while holding his hand, she peacefully went to her great reward. Theirs was a great romance.
There were three overarching axioms in which she firmly believed. Be kind to all, give and serve others that are in need, and always do your absolute best with what you have for as long as you are able. These were evidenced in all that she did. She always thought of others before herself.
Charming, gracious and dignified, she was also strong, determined, and a leader. She led every organization in which she participated. She served as a member of Twig, a nonprofit supporting INOVA Alexandria Hospital, for more than fifty years. During her presidency, she was instrumental in the purchase of its current location. She was the President of the Mother’s Club at St. Stephen’s School, and of the Red Hill Garden Club in which she was a member for more than thirty years. Deeply religious, Em served Trinity United Methodist Church in many leadership roles during her 57 years as a member, notably, as Chairwoman of its Administrative Board.
Em treasured Christmas more than most – a dear friend dubbed her the queen of Christmas. She loved great stories, was an avid reader, and adored the theater as well as movies. She relished travelling the world with Al. Aside from her charming home, her favorite places were Richmond, Paris, Williamsburg, Sandbridge/Virginia Beach, New York City, Bermuda, and Bunker Hill, a farm in King and Queen County Virginia where she summered in her youth.
All who knew Em treasured her grace, wisdom, and warm hospitality. She was well known for her culinary efforts – friends and guests will long recall their favorite dishes. She was happiest at gatherings of dear friends and family.
Em is survived by her husband Al, her son Ted and his fiancée Dawn, and their children Grace, Ella, and Max. Her sister and best friend, Mancha White, preceded her in death by twenty years. Em is survived by Mancha’s children, Bill, Mancha, and John as well as their families. She is also survived by her dear friend, Elizabeth Ruff, and her children, Paul, Patrick, and Mary Ellen as well as their families.
Celebrations of life will be held at Trinity United Methodist Church in Alexandria, Virginia on Saturday November 11 at 1pm, and Trinity United Methodist Church in Richmond, Virginia on Saturday November 25 at 11:30am. Luncheon receptions will follow both. She will be interred at Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond next to her sister, Mancha. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to Twig. https://www.thetwig.org/support-us/donate/