Memorial for Phillip Rush set for Friday

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imageA community gathering to remember veteran gay activist Phillip Rush is set for Friday in Midtown.

The event at Frogs Cantina on Monroe Drive calls attention to a place where Rush spent much of his time, according to Doug Carl, Rush’s friend of 12 years.

“If you did not find Phillip in his office, you found him at Frogs,” Carl says. “That was his gathering place for meetings and talk discussion. That’s where he did what he did best.”

Rush, 55, died early Tuesday from apparent complications arising from a blood clot, Carl says. His death has prompted an outpouring of support on Rush’s Facebook page from both gay and straight friends and colleagues.

The gathering on Friday begins at 6 p.m. and is open to the public. Carl says there will not be a local funeral or memorial service for Rush.

“Come, gather and celebrate. There has been a strong contingent of people who have called and expressed interest. I am sure it will be well populated and full of love,” Carl says.

Rush, who lived in Atlanta, worked with nonprofit groups as program officer at the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta for 15 years. He left the philanthropic organization in March and continued his community building work with Decatur-based Next Incarnation. Rush supported and worked with several gay organizations, including Georgia Equality, Atlanta Lesbian Health Initiative and Atlanta Bucks Rugby Football Club.

In addition to the make-shift memorial on his Facebook page, friends remembered Rush in interviews with Southern Voice.

“Phillip was about creating conversation and connections between different people and different communities,” said Allen Thornell, who worked with Rush when Thornell served as executive director and as a board member of Georgia Equality.

“He was always trying to find different ways to bring together people who wouldn’t otherwise meet, but who he thought would benefit from seeing a situation or issue through someone else’s lens,” continued Thornell, now director of policy communications for CARE USA. “He worked to create communities.”

Longtime Atlanta activist Duncan Teague recalled how he first met Rush at a workshop more than a decade ago, then became friends.

“What I loved about Phillip was that my impression is that he had come from privilege — I’m not sure how much privilege, but they were not struggling — and in spite of whatever that may have meant for some folks in that economic class, for Phillip that was never an excuse not to do for other people and never, ever an excuse to stop learning,” he said. “He was so interested to find out more about people, about how we relate to each other, about what might help and what won’t help.”

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