In Loving Memory of
Russell Winn Thompson
"So put a penny on ol' Sully,
And wish me some luck.
And yell farmers fight
when our boys are backed up.
Throw your arms around each other
and sing Hullabaloo.
'Cause that's what we do when we bleed maroon."
When their son was born on October 28, 1962â€"the same night the Aggies "beat the hell outta" Baylor 6-3 at Baylorâ€™s homecomingâ€"Rusty Thompsonâ€™s parents, Robert Edwin Thompson â€™57 and Betty Rookh Russell, of Conroe, TX, knew their son was destined to becoming a third-generation Aggie. Rusty and his brother Steve (wife Verna) grew up immersed in a sea of maroon and devoted to traditions that define the Spirit of Aggieland. As a kindergartener, when Rustyâ€™s teacher asked her students to draw pictures of Thanksgiving, he was the only child who chose to highlight the Aggie-Longhorn football game. He spent his childhood days visiting College Station with his older Aggie cousins, watching football games and attending Aggie Bonfire and Corps reviews. To his friends, Rusty was the ultimate 12th Man, and they wondered about his clothing choices on the rare occasion when he wasnâ€™t wearing maroon.
After high school, Rusty applied to only one university, and on the day that he received his acceptance letter to Texas A&M, he felt his "purpose in life had been achieved." He would need that conviction through the challenges he faced as a "fish" in the Corps of Cadets (in Squadron 5, "The Filthy Fifth," where he later became Commanding Officer). Here, his strength and determination were tested as he learned the Aggie Core Valuesâ€"especially Selfless Serviceâ€"and earned his Bachelorâ€™s degree in Industrial Education, then his M. Ed. in Educational Administration. He would carry these lessons with him as he spent three years working for Texas Tech in the Department of Housing and Dining Services. Luckily, in 1990, Rusty enthusiastically accepted an offer to return to Aggieland through the Department of Residence Life. Rusty went on to hold many roles working with students at Texas A&M, including advisor to Aggie Bonfire, where he guided the university through one of its darkest times after the stack collapsed in 1999. Rusty was also the advisor for the Aggie Yell Leaders, Class Councils, the Aggie Wranglers, Muster, Fish Campâ€"for which he was a namesake in both 1995 and 2015â€"and several other student organizations. Rusty was especially proud of advising students in planning the Big Event year after year, as well as overseeing the student creation of both Maroon Out and First Yell. His devotion and passion for students eventually earned him the role of Director of Student Activities at Texas A&M, his dream position. In this role he continued to impact thousands of lives as he worked with students to develop themselves and uphold Aggie traditions.
All told, Rusty served for more than two decades in TAMUâ€™s Division of Student Affairs, but perhaps his greatest achievement was meeting and marrying Tina Marie Kozelsky â€™87 on July 18, 1987. Rusty and Tina later welcomed two more Aggies into their family: son Blayne '10 (wife Janie â€™08) and daughter Brenna â€™16. Rusty also served as a leader for his sonâ€™s Boy Scout troop and at St. Anthonyâ€™s Catholic Church. A devoted family man, Rusty loved camping and cooking out, country music, playing basketball, and watching Aggie sports with his wife and children. Of course, his favorite phrase was "Howdy," and his quick wit and always-present humor made him engaging and well-liked, particularly as a Student Advisor, for which he received awards, including Advisor of the Year, the Presidentâ€™s Meritorious Service Award, the Randy Matson Award, and the John J. Koldus Award.
Each year, Rusty would almost burst with pride as he and Tina would distribute Aggie rings to students, and he counted his own Aggie ring amongst his prized possessions, along with the crucifix he always wore around his neck. The three most important things to Rusty were "faith, family, and being a Fightinâ€™ Texas Aggie," and he dutifully served each cause every day. His legacy of personal character includes his lifelong devotion to Christ and the "time-honored and proven valuesâ€¦and treasured traditions" of Texas A&M, as well as a conviction that the purpose of life is to love and serve others. Rusty is survived and remembered by his wife Tina, son Blayne (and daughter-in-law Janie), daughter Brenna, brother Steve and parents Robert and Betty, as well as countless Aggies, past and present.
The Life Celebration for Rusty will be held at St. Maryâ€™s Catholic Center at 11am on Saturday, March 19, 2016, with a reception following at St. Anthony Catholic Church. Attendees are encouraged to wear maroon. Visitation will be held at Hillier Funeral Home of College Station on Friday, March 18th from 4-7pm, followed by a Rosary at 7pm. A memorial tribute will be held on campus at Rudder Auditorium at 7pm on Monday, March 21st.
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