Colorado Springs News, Sports & Business

Arts Council's 2006 lifetime achievement winner dies at age 85

GARRISON WELLS Updated: December 11, 2012 at 12:00 am

A treasure has died.

Mary Jane Rust, 85, whose life was devoted to the arts in Colorado Springs, died Tuesday at 10 a.m. at Memorial Hospital.

She leaves just as she lived, in extraordinary fashion. Her services will be 1-3 p.m. Sunday at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center.

“There won’t be a funeral, we’re just going to celebrate her life,” said her son, Paul. “That’s what we do in my family.”

She is being cremated, he said, and the celebration will include videos and photo montages of her life.

“She fell away from her religious beliefs after losing children and other stuff,” Paul Rust said. “She went through a lot of hardship in her life, but she endured. She was a strong woman.”

Mary Jane Rust didn’t just love the arts, she lived them.

She was cultural affairs director for the Colorado Springs Parks and Recreation Department from 1979 to 1990. She managed the Colorado Springs Symphony Orchestra for four years and hosted and wrote a weekly interview show called “Emphasis on the Arts” for 18 years on a local television station. In 2006, she won the lifetime achievement award from the Pikes Peak Arts Council.

“She lived her life in that medium,” Paul said. “Everything she did pertained to the arts; the way she thought, her New Age thinking, always accepting new things.”

The arts started early for Mary Jane Rust. She studied music in college and dreamed of becoming an opera singer. Instead, she became a teacher. But her love of song remained, and she sang for the USO, entertaining soldiers during the Korean war and in local chorales.

She married Carl Rust, an Army captain, who died in 2008. The family came to Fort Carson in 1956, and decided to make Colorado Springs its home.

Mary Jane Rust may be gone, but she will be heard from yet again. Maybe it’s her indomitable spirit.

In 2101, when Colorado College opens a time capsule at Tutt Library, there will be a final message from Mary Jane: “Has 20th Century man’s inhumanity to man given way to understanding and forgiveness?”

“She asked me if that was OK. I said, “‘It was great,’” Paul said. “It wasn’t all fluff. She was a little depressed about the human condition, for good reason. The question will be: ‘Will we have learned anything, or will things be the same 100 years from now?’ ”

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