Local Preacher a Friend of the Late Harry Kalas
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
By Albert Countryman Jr.
source Gloucester City News
The Philadelphia Phillies were well represented at the All Star Game Tuesday night, by Chase Utley, Raul Ibanez, Ryan Howard, Shane Victorino and Jayson Werth.
The World Champions are in first place, they might get Pedro Martinez, and they are gearing up for another playoff run.
Yet, there is still a voice missing – that of Harry Kalas.
The popular announcer’s death this spring has left a void.
Yet, Harry Kalas was remembered as a good man, who cared about family and friends, and listened to fans and players.
One of his friends was the Reverend Edward H. Rusk, 59, who was born and raised in Gloucester City.
A Gloucester High School Class of 1967 graduate, Rusk served two years active duty in the U.S. Naval Reserves.
After working as a purchasing agent at RMP in Pennsauken, he decided he would like to be a minister.
His parents, Edward and Helen Rusk, are both deceased. He has four brothers and two sisters, some of whom still live in Gloucester City.
Rusk and his wife, Sherri, have two children, Megan and Brittany – and they are all Phillies fans.
The past two years, Rev. Rusk has served as pastor of Bethesda United Methodist Church in Swedesboro. When the family takes vacation, it usually includes seeing the Phils play on the road.
The friendship with Harry Kalas started in 1990, when Brittany sent out a Christmas Card saying “Pray for the Phillies. They need it.” It also included prayers for the guys calling the game.
“Harry wrote back that he was a preacher’s kid, and his dad was a pastor,” Rusk said, adding that Kalas appreciated someone praying for the announcers.
They all met face to face in the Hyatt Hotel lobby during a road trip to Cincinnati in the mid 1990s.
“He talked to me, my wife, and the girls. We were all excited,” Rev. Rusk said.
In 2000, the family met Harry’s wife, Eileen, during his “30th Anniversary of the Voice of the Phillies” dinner.
Throughout the years the families exchanged Birthday and Christmas cards, and Rev. Rusk even got a call from Harry on his birthday in 2006.
While watching the World Series clincher in 2008 at home with his wife, Rev. Rusk said, “It was a very vocal, exciting night.”
When Harry died, Eileen Kalas called Rev. Rusk and asked him to officiate at the private Graveside Service immediately after the Tribute Service in Citizens Bank Park.
It was a decision made by Eileen, and sons Todd (an announcer for Tampa Bay) and Brad Kalas.
From the ballfield, Rusk followed the Kalas and Ashburn families through Center City, led by the Philadelphia Police Motorcycle Unit.
“They were very professional,” Rev. Rusk said, who then gave the Funeral Message and said prayers at Harry’s grave.
“About 12 people spoke,” he said, all praising Harry. Then, everyone held hands and recited the Lord’s Prayer.
“Harry was a gracious person, very humble and down to Earth,” Rev. Rusk said.