Cover photo for Joe Rusek's Obituary
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1937 Joe 2019

Joe Rusek

January 2, 1937 — July 21, 2019

Joseph (Joe) Lawrence Rusek, 82, of Gate City VA passed away on July 21, 2019 in Richmond VA surrounded in love with his family.
He was preceded in death by Peggy, his beloved wife of 54 wonderful years. Joe was born January 2, 1937 in New Kensington, Pa, he was the eldest son of the late Joseph and Mary Catherine Novak Rusek.
Joe graduated from Ken-High in New Kensington, Pa where he played football under the “The Coach” Don Fletcher as a defensive end and guard, making the all-conference team. Under full scholarship, he moved on to Emory and Henry College (Class of 1958), where he played for four years under the respected Casto Ramsey. He was a 3-time All-State guard, named to the 1957 All-American Methodist Team, and inducted into the E&H Sports Hall of Fame in 1976.
Joe went on to a career in education as a teacher, coach, and administrator serving school districts in Southwest VA, East TN, and PA. Joe positively impacted the lives of many students and colleagues alike. He started teaching at Richlands High School in 1958 and earned a master’s degree from Radford University in 1973. He was an administrator at Gate City High School from 1973-1983, and retired as the principal from Weber City Elementary in 1991.
Rusek’s high school football coaching career spanned over 30 years starting at Richlands High School and included New Kensington (Upper Lakes Conference Coach of the Year 1968), Chilhowie, Christiansburg, and Sullivan West before settling at Gate City with Coach Fry in 1973. Together they built a strong Blue Devil winning tradition (1974 State Champions). Joe was called back into duty at Twin Springs in the early 1990’s. He is now with many of his former coaching buddies orchestrating the next winning game plan.
Joe thoroughly enjoyed his life and spending time with people. He loved music and the outdoors: going to concerts, whitewater rafting and camping. He spent much time on the lake boating with family and friends. He was proud of his Polish heritage and exhibited it in many ways. He was a great storyteller, appreciated a good joke, and always had a great comeback. In retirement, he and Peggy traveled to many different places enjoying the sights, sounds and his favorite beer.
Joe loved his family and he will be missed by his daughter Carol Rusek Summitt and husband Dan of Goochland,VA; his son Joey and wife Michele of Gate City; two brothers: Richard and wife Marcia of Lower Burrell, PA; Bob and wife Hilda of Meadeville, PA; grandchildren Jennifer Summitt Booth and husband Steven, Josie Summitt, Bailey Rusek, Josette Picano, Leyton Rusek, Sophia Summitt, John Daniel Summitt, Madison Booth, Graie Misciagna; numerous nieces and nephews, and many special friends.
He loved many people, and many people loved him. A special thanks is given to Circle Center Adult Day Services in Richmond for their help in taking care of him these past four years. A celebration of life will be held on Sunday, August 11 at Gate City Funeral Home from 1:00 – 4:00 pm with a service 4:30. In lieu of flowers, donations are requested for the Operation BBQ Relief in Joe’s name (www.operationbbqrelief.org), Mountain Empire Community College Peggy Rusek Memorial Scholarship (www.meccfoundation.org), or to the Circle Center Adult Day Services (www.circlecenterva.org) in memory of Joe.
To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Joe Rusek, please visit our flower store.

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