Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Life of Rusty Earnest

Rusty L. Earnest was 47 years-old when he was brutally murdered three years ago. If he had died one hundred years earlier, perhaps there would have been those who felt Rusty had lived a long life; when he died in 2007, many speculated on the number of years that had been taken from him. All who knew him agreed on one thing: Rusty Earnest had lived life to the fullest.

Rusty left several relatives, among them his sister Patsy Earnest Michael of Athens. The following is an account of Rusty's life in her own words:

Rusty grew up in the small town of Loretto, Tenneessee. There he attended high school and was selected as most friendly, a trait he carried through his 47 years of life. At the time of his death, he lived on the Tennessee River in Rogersville, Alabama, where he had resided since 1984.

He had traveled around the United States in the Nuclear Power Industry since the early 1980s. He had worked locally at Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant and was working at the TVA Muscle Shoals Power Shop at the time of his murder. Rusty was a Christian man, an active member at Faith Church in Florence, where he served on the greeters ministry. Rusty had a God given gift of helping others. He was always ready to lend a helping hand and would take the time to talk to others, never drawing attention to himself.

As family we knew the sincere kind of person he was, but since his death have learned from co-workers from all areas-church family, neighbors, and friends-of the many positive impacts he had made in their lives. All of these people were devastated by his horrible and senseless death. Rusty worked very hard for his material possessions and was thankful for them. He loved to have people to enjoy fellowship at his home on the river, only to have everything destroyed.

Rusty’s life being taken has been devastating for my family, and only with God's help in our lives and prayers from others, have we survived. It’s something we will never get over, but have to learn to live with. We are members of the group Vocal (Victims of Crime and Leniency) in which we now support other families when the same devastation and pain comes to them.

In so many people's eyes, Kenny Strickland should never get out of prison. Yet as sad as it is, by Alabama Law he will become eligible for parole one day, and we will be there to fight for Rusty. We are now in the process of working on this, even though it should be years in the future.

Tomorrow: The Death of Rusty Earnest