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In Memoriam  

Robert P. Rushmore, 1928 – 2019 

 

Robert P. Rushmore of Garden City died on  

September 27, 2019 at the age of 91. A retired English  professor, he was a trustee and officer of the Nassau County  Historical Society for many years, as well as an editor of this  Journal who wrote numerous articles on Long Island history. 

Robert Rushmore could trace his Long Island roots back to Thomas  Rushmore who came to Hempstead by 1657, after nearly a decade in Connecticut.  On his maternal side, Hans Cristoffels (a name later Anglicized to Christopher)  emigrated from Holland before 1664, first to Flatbush, Long Island, and then to  Staten Island. 

Robert graduated from Baldwin High School and then served in the  U.S. Army Medical Corps from 1946-1947. He received his B.A. from the  University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (1950) and an M.A. from Columbia  University (1953). He also earned a Master of Philosophy degree from Columbia  in 1977. He taught English at the University of Georgia in Athens (1953-1962),  Farleigh Dickinson University (1963), CUNY’s Hunter College and Lehman  College (1964-1968), and at Nassau Community College (1969-1985). Professor  Rushmore published an article on “The Criticism of W. H. Auden,” which  appeared in Shenandoah: The Washington & Lee University Review 14, no. 3  (1963): 2-57, and donated his collection of more than a hundred items about the  Anglo-American poet Auden to the Wilson Library at the University of North  Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1988. 

Robert Rushmore served as a Trustee of the Nassau County Historical  Society and its Corresponding Secretary for twenty-five years. He was first  elected to the Board in 1988 and retired in 2013. In addition, he became  Assistant Editor of this Journal in 2002, and then Associate Editor in 2010.  Unfortunately, his health this year did not permit him to edit the articles in this  issue. He always insisted on good writing and correct grammar in his editing  and dismissed some submissions as “ not publishable.” I strive to live up to his  high standards for our Journal

Over the years, he donated a number of manuscripts and vintage  photographs to the Nassau County Historical Society’s collections at Hofstra  University. These included a 1657 Hempstead deed and the Prescription book  from Thomas Rushmore’s Pharmacies in Hempstead and Garden City (1897- 

1907), which was the subject of his article in our 2014 Journal. Robert wrote eight historical articles that appeared in this Journal and  seven additional articles in five other publications. Some of his articles on local  

 

history related his own family’s history, others drew on his background in  literature, while still others focused on Hempstead. He always used a manual  typewriter, though he attempted to embrace the new technology. He bought a  computer and took lessons, but the computer sat unused on his desk. 

At his request, poem XIX from Conrad Aiken’s “Preludes for Mamnon”  was read at the interment of his ashes in the family plot in Greenfield Cemetery  in Hempstead. Its opening lines are: 

Watch long enough, and you will see the leaf 

Fall from the bough. Without a sound it falls: 

And soundless meets the grass . . .  

Unmarried, he is survived by two nieces, Susan Sahler of Florida and  Donna Castellana of Walkill, New York, and four great-nephews. As Mrs.  Sahler recently wrote, “He was a gentleman, who was kind and thoughtful and  very precise.” Indeed, Robert Rushmore was a gentleman and a scholar, and  is greatly missed. 

A Personal Remembrance by Stephanie Bird 

Robert was a gentleman with a rich intellect and high principles for living  life. He stayed true to his beliefs and his high standards. He appreciated good  quality as expressed in the clothes he wore and the words he spoke and wrote.  When our family spoke of him, we often referred to him as “Dapper Bob.” He  liked to stand in front of the fireplace sipping a good Scotch, dressed in “tie and  tweed,” while listening to and participating in the talk of the moment. 

Robert enjoyed a stimulating conversation especially when he could  expound on literature, history, the direction of society, poetry, and more. He  was concerned about the world and its direction, and was able to find solace  in the poetry of Conrad Aiken and W. H. Auden. 

Robert appreciated nature, particularly the grounds in springtime of the  Cathedral of the Incarnation in Garden City. He once told me, “Stephanie,  if you want to enjoy a beautiful, peaceful springtime walk, walk around the  grounds of the Cathedral. They are beautiful.” At Easter gatherings Robert  would always arrive at my door with a gorgeous, colorful daffodil or tulip plant  with the suggestion that I could plant it in my garden. 

There is sadness at the passing of such goodness and richness of intellect.  The uniqueness of an individual seems to be more evident when they are gone. 

In Memoriam: Robert P. Rushmore, 1928-2019

Articles on Local History by Robert P. Rushmore (in chronological order) 

“A Sketch of The Life and Works of Daniel M. Tredwell [1826-1921].” Journal  of Long Island History 12 (Fall 1975): 4-22. 

“Gabriel Harrison [1818-1902]: Artist, Writer, and ‘Father of the Drama in  Brooklyn.’” Journal of Long Island History 18 (Spring 1982): 30-44. “”Auden in Amityville.” Long Island Forum 48, no. 7 (July 1985): 131-35. “Letters from George Mayher to Ann Amelia Sammis, 1854.” Long Island  Forum 52 (Fall 1989): 120-27. 

“‘The River Sampit’: A Forgotten Eighteenth-Century American Topographical  Poem.” South Carolina Historical Magazine 93, no. 3/4 (July-October  1992): 221-30. 

“Thomas Rushmore, A Long Island Pioneer.” In Hempstead: The Roots and  Heritage of Hempstead Town, ed. Natalie A. Naylor, pp. 47-78. Interlaken,  NY: Hearts of the Lakes Publishing/Hofstra University, 1994.  

“The Location of the First Hempstead Meetinghouse.” Nassau County  Historical Society Journal (hereafter cited as NCHS Journal) 49 (1994):  7-14. 

 “‘The Village of East-Hampton,’ A Sketch by John Howard Payne [1838],  edited with an Introduction and Notes.” Long Island Historical Journal 10 (Fall 1997): 25-38. 

“Life on Old Long Island: An Essay Review” of Journeys on Old Long  Island: Travelers’ Accounts, Contemporary Descriptions, and Residents’  Reminiscences, 1744-1893, ed. Natalie A. Naylor. NCHS Journal 57  (2002): 45-49. 

 “A Brief History of the Rushmore Homestead Farm in Uniondale.” NCHS Journal 59 (2004): 31-34. 

 “The See House in Garden City.” NCHS Journal 60 (2005): 10-15.  “George Washington at the Sammis Inn: The History of a Myth.” NCHS  Journal 64 (2009): 20-29. 

“Reconstructing the History of Hempstead’s Sammis Hotel.” NCHS Journal 65 (2010): 16-24. 

“John Evers, Painter of Hempstead, Long Island.” NCHS Journal 66 (2011):  1-7. 

“‘Receipts and Private Formulas of T.T.R.’: A Prescription Book of Thomas  Tredwell Rushmore, A Pharmacist in Hempstead and Garden City.” NCHS  Journal 69 (2014): 9-17. 

—Natalie A. Naylor and Stephanie Bird

 

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