"Being a family means to me that we are one in our vision for the future."
~ Rusty Rutherford - Grandmother Rusty - Elisi StrongHeart ~
June 14, 1946 - April 9, 2006
(Until we meet again...)
The following pages are dedicated and presented here in honor of our Beloved Grandmother
who has gone home... I hope that what is shared will bring a smile to your face as you each
reflect on how she touched you, personally... I have made many phone calls and interviewed a
few of Grandmother's relatives, to perhaps share her life with you all here...
In our culture, it is customary that we not mention the name of a loved one after they have
crossed. We do not wish to bind them here so they can continue on the next leg of their
journey. However, you will see interviews and pictures here that will speak her name,
nonetheless. Please understand that in keeping with tradition, her name will not be spoken
here again, unless clarity is needed or it has been mentioned in an interview.
One thing that I know she dearly loved was her Native American family. She was of the
AniWaya, or Wolf Clan. She was so proud to be a part of that. We bought her a Star some years
back and I've included a picture of the sky to show you where it is. As you all know, she loved
the Stars and the cosmos. In fact, that is how I met Grandmother. Several years ago, we were
on a radio show together called "The Cosmic News Hour". She would update all of us on what
was happening out there and warn us of upcoming sun spots and
She also had a wonderful website called "Rusty's Retreat", where she would show you actual
pictures of some astounding things that were out there in the Universe. Here's a picture of the
sky map showing where her Star is, so you can think of her when you look out there.... Click on
this image and then you can zoom in even better... Look for the red dot.
Enjoy your memories, and if you have something you would like to say or contribute, please
contact me, Elisi FiveHawks, at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I will gladly come back in here and
add it for you. We all knew her in different ways. Therefore, we all have different feelings and
memories of her. I hope you enjoy what others have shared about their own special relationship
Something I found to be funny was how she loved her pop tarts - blueberry or chocolate. Those
of us who knew her well, knew she had a hard time getting, and then keeping, her weight up.
We all tried to do our part by keeping her supplied with her pop tarts!
She also dearly loved to play her poker games with her online poker buddies. Here she is one
day when she was well enough to do that.
Grandmother was born June 14, 1946 and had a pretty colorful and hard life at times. In
speaking with Chuck, her partner, he told me many things I did not know about her. She loved
horse racing and was quite wrapped up in that. She kept volumes of records on horses and
wagering techniques, and that is how she met Chuck. It was a freak accident that caused them
to meet. Seems Chuck and his longtime Karate sparring partner, Reese, had recently been at
the ring and Chuck was left with a black eye. Grandmother's
daughter, Michelle, was also interested in Karate. They were all at a restaurant and one thing
led to another, when Michelle asked Chuck about his black eye.
Eight weeks later, Grandmother called him to see how he was and went over for the weekend.
The weekend never ended... She loved to ride motorcycles and was interested in the same
things Chuck was. She went all over the East Coast on motorcycle and even made a few trips
all the way to Florida.
Always in the people service business, she had worked at the race track cafe as a cashier, as
well as being a waitress at Denny's and several other places. Among her other interests, she
loved fossils. Here's a great article about her and her personal collection.
Grandmother was so proud of her son Dale. In speaking with him, I didn't keep him long as it
was very hard for him. Dale is a Wild Land Fire Fighter in Oregon - he fights forest fires. I know
there were a few times that when Dale was out there fighting those fires a few years ago, she
would be so worried about him.... He has a son, 16, in Oregon, and daughter in Woodbridge VA,
age 24, and a grandson, Blake, that is 5.
One thing that Dale said stood out in his mind about his mother, was that she took everybody
the same way and never treated anyone differently, like his friends. When he found his
daughter after searching for 14 years, who also had 3 younger sisters, Grandmother took them
all under her wing like they were her own grandchildren. Of course they were each lucky to be
gifted with one of her beautiful afghans.
Her daughter, Michelle, had this to say:
She was grandmother to most, but Mom to me. Though we did not live together for long, her and
my dad divorced when I was 5, We always kept contact with each other in some way. I remember
my weekends would consist of meeting her in West Virginia and sitting at Dennys and talking,
then maybe going to the flea market, or the mall, or something to spend time together. We used
to laugh so hard I would make her cry. She taught me how to play cards , I drank my first cup of
coffee all while sitting at Dennys over the years. I knew I could always call her with problems
that I did not want to go to my dad with, just because they were usually female problems.
During the last months of her life, I would visit her when I could. I was unable to be with her
during her last hours because of travel issues, and I was also unable to attend her funeral
services. I never got to say my goodbyes to my mom. So I guess in a way , this is my goodbye.
Thank you mom for all you done, I love you and miss you. Love your daughter, Michelle
Grandmother's biological mother, Marie Hedgecock, of Fallbrook CA, is someone that I have
also not been able to locate thus far, but there are those trying to help me find her. She has a
full sister named Beverly Jean Nesselrodt. Grandmother's stepmother, Valores Hall, was
married to her father, Elmer Nesselrodt, who was called Gleason. Through the union of Gleason
and Valores, she also had a half-brother named Elton Nesselrodt.
I had the pleasure and good fortune of speaking with Judy Beasley, who is the sister to
Grandmother's first husband, Jerry. Below, you will find the results of that interview, as well as
some from other people I spoke with about Grandmother. She was dearly loved by many....
Enjoy your visit and I hope you recall some special memories of your own.... You might even
want to check back from time to time as other people's memories of her are added....
Elisi = ay-lee-see
Donadagohv i = doh-nah-dah-goh-huh-ee
Witsatologi = wee-chaw-toh-loh-gee
TawodiHisgi = tah-woh-dee hees-gee
"I don't have a lot of info that I would be able to release. She loved baking.
Of course in the days when we knew her, we didn't know she liked motorcycyles.
She was married to my brother for only a short time. Crocheting was something
she really liked to do. She was very outgoing, loved people, and laughed alot. It
was a very long time ago. Grandmother's daughter Michelle was Judy's niece
and for the most part, that is why they kept in touch. Judy continued on to say
"We miss Rusty even if we only knew her from a distance." She recalls her as
being a very caring person with a kind heart. "She was different after she became
ill. She was extremely compassionate. We all bonded closer towards the end
of her life than we did in the earlier years when she was married to my brother.
She was married to Jerry for about 6 or 7 years. They lived in WV and then had
their daughter Michelle." Judy told me that they were glad they had the opportunity
to be reacquainted the last years of her life and truly believe she became a better
person when she got sick. She went on to say, "That was the beautiful side of Rusty
and truly we saw a different person. We loved her as she was their sister.... She had
a very rough life."
Judy's husband is a minister and he conducted the funeral services. "We were with her
when she took her final breath... We gathered around and prayed. When they
pulled the plug, we sang praises to the Lord."
"The day I met her was exhilarating...and held much honor.
I was fairly new to being in Virginia with PaleEagle, and was like
a sponge, soaking in the many beauties and wonders of this state.
Then I was introduced to my new "Indian family" ... In one day I met
Clan Mother PeacefulWind, her son LittleTree and most of all,
Seeing the light shine within so brightly from having her extended
family all around was worth more than one can put into words.
The warmth and love that she put forth wrapped around you as a
soft blanket, like the ones she would knit and give."
..Wado and much Tsiqueyu...!!
(Thank you and much love)
Wado = wah-doh
tsiqueyu = chee-kway-yoo
Unalasgitsula = oo-nah-lah-sgee-choo-lah
PALE EAGLE aka HORSE FEATHERS
Words about Grandmother....
"Visiting her for the first time when she was sick and in a hospital in Berryville,
I had the honor to meet her. She was grateful I came by, thankful that someone
came by from her extended family of heart. She was surprised too. We talked
for well over an hour and I gave her a gift, as always is given to an elder such
When she looked at me it was almost as if she knew who I was without ever
meeting me. I told her my name was Pale Eagle and she sat up with glee.
She was so excited that within minutes when she wanted me to grab her
handbag she was calling me everything under the sun, most notably Horse
Feathers. She knew her error and we both laughed. It was pretty funny and
became somewhat of an inside joke. The next two times I saw her I was
again called Horse Feathers, and a host of other names like Eagle Bird, but
Horse Feathers seemed to have stuck enough that I would respond if she
shouted Horse Feathers. To this day it is a smile in a bucket over that name."
"My son Little Tree first met our beloved elder when she was very ill in the hospital.
The two of them formed some special bond that was unseen, but very strong.
Little Tree sang and prayed with her, and for him, the giving of his heart made the
web. The healing of his prayer gave the threads of the web strength for her.
Her immediate acceptance of him gave him identity and a value of his own that he
greatly needed. She gave him courage to accept his heritage, his individuality
and a belief in his "power" because she believed in him. And we all knew, his
"power" was in offering true love. Little Tree merely offered what he felt from her.
I will forever remember her taking the time and energy to love a boy, when she
herself, suffered so much. But then, love heals so much for us all....whether you
give it or receive it. It was a rare thing the two shared.....they both healed a part
of themselves from the invisible bond that connected them.
Little Tree has let our beloved elder go: on to her next journey. And he did so
feeling relief for her suffering to end. He did so out of the same love that bound
them. He has not let her go from his heart. His heart will carry her love, her
acceptance and her belief in him forever.
And there are no words of thankfulness for that."
~ a mom
Grandmother's Painting - NoquisiAyoli, or Star Child, by Elisi FiveHawks
"I raised her from when she was a child. Towards the end, well for
the last couple years before she died, we became very close."
Valores is Grandmother's step-mother and works for the Postal
Service. She was married to her father, Elmer (Gleason) Nesselrodt.
A BIG wado to Valores for the old school pictures!!!
"She loved to crochet, and she loved her tribe. She was SO proud to
be a member of her Native American family. They gave her
great comfort and a sense of belonging.
Sometimes she had a tough life and other times she had a good life.
Rusty and I lost contact and then found each other again. Over the
last 3 or 4 years, we were in contact 3 or 4 times a year,
and then towards the end, every day. Her aunt Valerie went to visit
quite often at the nursing home. She dearly, dearly loved her children,
especially her son Dale. They were very close. She was always
so proud of him.
Rusty was not so much into sports when she was younger. I know
she played in some sports but can't remember what exactly. She played
the clarinet in the band. She came to visit once and wanted her clarinet,
so I gave it to her and she took it home with her. I don't know whatever
happened to that clarinet... She loved being around people. She didn't
get to enjoy her new home for very long. Her aunt Ruth said that the
newness of the home caused her to not be able to get her breath."
Clan Mother PeacefulWind and Grandmother Rusty
|CLICK to enlarge