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4400 Bardstown Road
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Richard Cushing


1947 - 2019
Richard Cushing Obituary
Richard Cushing

Louisville - Rick (Cush) Cushing, who was born Oct. 9, 1947, in Pittsburgh, Pa., bought the farm on April 20th, 2019, in Louisville, Ky.

He was preceded in death by his mother, Dorothy Malone Cushing, father, Maurice, and brother, Dennis. He is survived by a daughter, Caitlin (Scotty Sheehan, life partner), grandsons Marcas and Coen, son Dennis, and sister, Maureen Anders. He also is survived by two dogs - a coonhound-boxer mix named Lucy and an Australian Cattle Dog mix named Murdoch, and by a black cat named Janis. No obit of Rick would be complete without mention of Casey, an Australian Cattle Dog mix dead some 20 years but for whom Rick, like Bojangles, still grieved.

Rick graduated from Atherton High School, the Defense Language Institute (Monterey, Calif.) and the University of Louisville. Before retiring in 2006, Rick toiled for 30 years at The Courier-Journal as a writer, copy editor and thoroughbred handicapper. As a writer he was most proud of the annual story (1987-2005) "How the Derby Winner Spent the Night," which was his own invention. As a handicapper he once picked eight winners on a nine-race card at Churchill Downs.

Along the way he had numerous occupations -- United States Marine (Vietnam War veteran); Assistant Sports Information Director (University of Louisville): headwaiter (The Fig Tree); writer (Kentucky Bicentennial Commission); standardbred groom (Gary Mills Stable); Kentucky Harness Horseman's Association field representative; teacher; softball umpire; free-lance writer; researcher and writer (original Kentucky Derby Museum); and script writer for WKPC-TV\ - "To Fly Without Wings" and "Black Jockeys: A Forgotten Legacy," winning an Eclipse Award for the latter. He also served as the head baseball coach at Manual High School (1985-87). It was the most personally rewarding job he ever had.

He has written a screenplay - "Debs" - about the life of Eugene Debs, the American labor leader who ran for President five times as a Socialist, the final time in 1920 while in federal prison for opposition to WW I. Rick has yet to find a producer for the film. If it ever is produced, he wishes the proceeds to go to his children.

He also was one of only two (along with Ben Wood) two-time batting champions for the Tim Tam II softball team. One year was officially ruled "in dispute" however, else either Wood would be a three-time batting champ or Bruce Sucher a two-timer.

Since his retirement Rick was a copy editor/writer for The Sports Report; stringer (Reuters); softball umpire (Louisville Metro Parks); and writer/copy editor for Bill Doolittle's latest Kentucky Derby book; as well as an assistant baseball coach at De Sales, Jeffersonville and Manual high schools.

A woman once broke off an engagement with Rick because she said he was sports obsessed. That isn't fair because he had two other obsessions - literature and history.

His passion for literature was inspired by his parents (his mother taught him to read at age 4, and his father gave him "A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court" at age 8). Favorites were Herodotus, Polybius, Plutarch, Samuel Johnson, Lord Byron, Mark Twain, Walt Whitman, Churchill, Steinbeck, Dos Passos, Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Solzhenitsyn and Vonnegut.

His passion for history was inspired by Dr. Sutton at UofL and included Scipio Africanus, the American Civil War, Lincoln and Grant, the labor struggle, Debs, Churchill, WW II and the Vietnam War, JFK and RFK.

To be sure, he was a sports fan -- UofL basketball, Pitt football, the Steelers and, especially, the Pittsburgh Pirates, about whom he wrote a book -- "1960 Pittsburgh Pirates, Day-by-Day, A Special Season, An Extraordinary World Series."

He was a member of the Filson Club, Civil War Round Table, Smithsonian Society, Humane Society and Defenders of Wildlife.

Like Samuel Johnson's friend Bathhurst, Rick was "a very good hater." Johnson wrote that Bathhurst "hated a fool, he hated a rogue, and he hated a Whig. He was a very good hater." Rick hated a politically-correct, bleeding-heart liberal, he hated a poser, and he hated UK.

There will be no funeral, but there will be a memorial at Resthaven, 4400 Bardstown Rd., Louisville, KY 40218 on Saturday, April 27th from 5 p.m.-8 p.m. Rick requests that all who attend tip a shot of Irish whiskey (provided) in his memory.

Rick will be cremated and has instructed that his ashes be spread at the centerfield wall of Forbes Field in Pittsburgh, home of the Pirates from 1909-69 and the site of many of Rick's fondest memories. He previously had wanted some of his ashes to be spread at Churchill Downs but has recanted. He revered the Kentucky Derby but despised Churchill Downs' money-grubbing ways, and he didn't want to be found dead beneath the $160 million addition (in 2003) to the stands with abominable sight lines caused by an incompetent design (inadequate elevation between rows). If you aren't in the very first row, you can't see the stretch run!

Rick requests that expressions of sympathy be made to the Dennis Cushing Memorial Fund at Atherton High School (3000 Dundee Road). The Fund each year honors a junior football player for spirit and attitude in memory of Dennis, who died in an auto accident in 1968 while a junior.
Published in The Courier-Journal on Apr. 24, 2019
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