CARBONDALE — SIU Hall of Famer Marion Rushing, the most decorated athlete in the history of the school, died Friday morning at the age of 76 at his home.
Rushing played four sports for the Salukis between 1954-57 (football, basketball, track and wrestling), earning a school-record 13 letters. As a defensive lineman, he made the All-Interstate Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Team in 1956 and 57. On the track, he set the school record in the javelin in 1958.
“He’s been quite an icon in Southern Illinois. And not just because of his athletic performance, but the kind of person he was,” said former Pinckneyville High School football coach Tod Rushing, who is a first cousin of Marion. “Very devout Christian man, people looked up to him. Very humble. Somebody you wanted your kids to look up. He was my childhood idol, I know that.”
Rushing scored 92 points in 46 games with the men’s basketball team and was inducted into SIU’s Hall of Fame in 1978. He was honored by SIU in August 2010 when it renamed Tennis Drive after him.
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“Marion’s roots go very deep in Pinckneyville,” Bonnie Rushing, Marion's wife, said at the ceremony naming the street after him. “There was no question of where his permanent residence would be.”
Following his career at SIU, Rushing went on to play 10 seasons of professional football in both the NFL and AFL as a linebacker for the Chicago Bears, St. Louis Cardinals and Houston Oilers. Two of those years, he served in the United States Army. Rushing played in 105 games in nine and a half seasons, finishing his career with Houston in 1968.
Funeral services will be held at Beaucoup Baptist Church in Pinckneyville, Rushing’s hometown, at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday. Internment will be in Mueller Hill Cemetery in Pinckneyville. Visitation will be from 5 to 8 p.m. Tuesday and from 9 to 10:30 a.m. Wednesday at Beaucoup Baptist Church.
Rushing suffered from Parkinson’s disease for more than three decades. The family asks that any memorial donations be made to The Parkinson Society or the Beaucoup Baptist Church Building Fund.
On Twitter: @THefferman_SI