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Community activist Phillip Rush passes away suddenly

Sad news to report.

Community activist Phillip Rush died suddenly two days ago from a pulmonary embolism.

A mutual friend, Jim Durrett of the Livable Communities Coalition, told me the news this morning.

The last time I saw Phillip was when I ran into him during the Atlanta Dogwood Festival. He was sitting down watching the crowds of people walk by. We spoke for a few minutes, and I never would have guessed that it would be the last time we would see each other.

Phillip was one of those folks I would just run into — at the movie theater or at a restaurant or at a community meeting. He always had an opinion or a intriguing perspective on what was happening in our town.

Phillip Rush, 55, had worked at the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta for nearly 15 years as a program officer until this past March when he was laid off due to cutbacks at the non-profit. He then started his own firm — Next Incarnation — to work with non-profit organizations.

The best word to describe Phillip was community. He was a strong gay rights activist who in Atlanta, serving as the Community Foundation’s Lesbian & Gay Funding Initiative for Youth from 1994 to 1999; and working on the National Lesbian & Gay Community Funding Partnership Advisory Committee from 1994 to 2005.

But his community work was all-encompassing — ranging from urban design to public participation to uplifting the poor.

For a wonderful tribute of Phillip Rush, read this link to a story from Southern Voice Online. There also is another tribute by Project Q Atlanta.

There will be a memorial gathering for Phillip on Friday evening, May 1, at Frogs Cantina in Midtown.

Maria Saporta

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.



  1. mariasaporta May 1, 2009 5:19 pm

    After reading my post about Phillip Rush, I received the following email from Midtown resident Jim Kane. He told me it would be fine to share his thoughts with all of you.

    Email from Jim Kane:

    We are neighbors but have never met.

    I learned tonight of the death of Phillip which apparently we both knew as a friend. I am leaving on a trip tomorrow so sadly won’t be at Frogs for the get together tomorrow night. If you wouldn’t mind mentioning this email I would appreciate it if an approriate time arises.

    I was race director for the Pride Run for 5 years from 1995 through 2000. Phillip and his involvement with the Gay and Lesbian Funding Initiative gave us a matching grant for several years that ended up creating the largest contribution that we ever made to the community from the Pride Run. Linda Ellis will know of this but Frontrunners was also the first organized group that gave funds to help start the ALCI. Those funds were possible because of Phillip’s matching grant money.

    Aside from that what I must say about him is that there was never a conversation with him where he didn’t seek to find a way for us to do something together for a community cause. He was always working it! I also remember that in any conversation Phillip always dove further into my thoughts than most people I know. He made any conversation his ONLY conversation with depth in listening and understanding. It was uncomfortable even at times and certainly different than your usual ‘how is our day going’ type questioning.

    If at all possible please mention how much Frontrunners and me valued his work, commitment and friendship.

    Thank you Maria. Hope we meet someday.

    My best,
    Jim KaneReport


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