COLUMBIA — There was far more laughing than crying at Division Chief Glenn Rush’s retirement reception Friday as co-workers, friends and family members gathered to honor Rush for his 20 years of service with the Columbia Fire Department.
Assistant city manager Tony St. Romaine and Assistant Fire Chief Chuck Witt each spoke a few words as they presented Rush with a plaque, a service award for merit and a bronze award for rescue. Witt then jokingly hesitated to open the floor up for others to speak, and so began the near-roast.
No one looked surprised as nearly everybody who spoke gave Rush a good-natured ribbing in addition to singing his praises. Most of the people who were asked to describe Rush before the reception used the word “prankster.”
Two men who had Rush as their division chief, David Haney and Danny Spry, seemed particularly aware of this.
“He likes to mess with people,” Haney said. “He’s real good at getting you when you least expect it.”
Spry added: “He likes to dish it out, but he doesn’t like to take it.”
Joe Innes, one of Rush’s recruit school classmates, agreed with the “prankster” label but was quick to add the terms “outgoing” and “diligent” to the discussion.
Witt also discussed the impact of Rush’s retirement in a more serious manner.
“Glenn was a rock-solid division chief, and we lost a lot of experience today,” Witt said.
Rush said that he will miss both the camaraderie he had with all of his co-workers and the opportunity he had to serve the citizens of Columbia. He said he will not be pining for the long hours away from home, however, and is looking forward to having a less demanding schedule.
“I’m going to continue to work at Boone Hospital as a paramedic part time,” Rush said. “And I’m just going to spend time with my family and make up for time that we missed out on.”