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Dorothy Rushdoony, Chalcedon Matriarch, Dies

In 2001, I was conducting a Vision Forum Ministries Father and Son Retreat in the snowed-in mountains of California when I received news of the death of R.J. Rushdoony. The influence of this man on twentieth century thought was vast and extended to many who drew heavily from his writings though they were unwilling to formally associate with him because of his vigorous advocacy of biblical law. My own appreciation for him is deeply personal. Dr. Rushdoony was the man primarily responsible for leading my father to Christ. He was a spiritual father to my Dad. For that I am eternally grateful.

At the request of my father, I left the Father and Son Retreat to deliver a personal message to Dr. Rushdoony’ widow, Dorothy. We drove half a day to the funeral of Dr. Rushdoony, where my son Joshua and I arrived just in time to participate in the internment. I found Mrs. Rushdoony, kissed her, and delivered my father’s confidential message. She responded kindly, then wept: “My husband was my life. What shall I do without him.”

The Lord saw fit to give Mrs. Rushdoony several more years of life before calling her home to Glory. Precious in the eyes of the Lord are the deaths of His saints. Below is her obituary:

Dorothy Barbara Ross Rushdoony went to be with her Lord and Savior October 30, 2003. She died of heart failure at the home of her stepson in Vallecito, California. She was 87.

Dorothy played pivotal roles in the ministry of Chalcedon, the foundation started by her husband Rousas John Rushdoony in 1965. Passionate about the truth that the faith is for all of life, Dorothy worked in numerous capacities to see that the life-changing message of Chalcedon went forth. She was a charter member of the Chalcedon board and served in that capacity for many years. In addition, she focused her efforts as each day demanded. She happily prepared meals over the years for thousands who came to sit at her husband’s feet to learn of his wisdom or seek counsel. With much enthusiasm, she typed, proofed, and indexed his numerous book manuscripts — this in an age where typing was on a manual typewriter and indexing was also done manually. Her children have often said that without her, Rush would have left rooms full of unpublished manuscripts. It was in honor of her labors that the publishing house, Ross House Books, they established in 1976 was given her maiden name — Ross. She encouraged her husband to send out monthly updates to his supporters. She typed, proofed, mimeographed, and mailed these updates which over the years grew into the Chalcedon Report. In addition, she served as a faithful wife to Rush and mother to his children, also caring for Rush’s mother in her old age. Her servant’s efforts ensured that his important message went forth to our generation. There are no words to thank her for her contribution, which have resulted in significant growth for the kingdom of God.

Dorothy’s many years of labor were succeeded by the tribulations of declining health. In the late 1980s she began to lose her eyesight, becoming legally blind in 1994. At that time, knowing that longevity ran in her family, she declared, more seriously than in jest, “I don’t want to live forever. I believe in heaven, I really do.” Alzheimer’s eroded her memory progressively in recent years, robbing her friends and family of the personality they had come to know and love. It is with gratitude that they commit her to her Savior and to her eternal reward in a place where there is no sickness or pain.

Her husband, Rousas, preceded Dorothy in death in 2001. She is survived by five stepchildren; Joanna Manesajian of Angels Camp, California; Sharon North of Winslow, Arkansas; Martha Coie of Downey, California; and Rebecca Rouse and Mark Rushdoony of Vallecito, California; by eighteen grandchildren: Sarah Nunez, Jill, Levi and Emily Rouse, Rachel and Daniel Manesajian, Darcy, Scott, and Caleb North, Lori North McDurmon, Christine Coie Aardema, Jennifer, Mary and Glenn Coie, and Isaac, April, Marie and Ross Rushdoony and four great-grandchildren: Brittney and Savannah Nunez, Chase and Kendal Aardema and numerous other spiritual children and grandchildren.

Other details will be posted on the Chalcedon website www.chalcedon.edu as they are available. You may also contact Chalcedon Office at 209-736-4365 Ext.10. In lieu of flowers the family requests that donations be made in her memory to the Chalcedon Foundation, P.O. Box 158, Vallecito, CA 95251, to be used in the publication of the works of her late husband, R.J. Rushdoony, whose work she faithfully labored to further for so many years.

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