KIMBERLING CITY, Mo.— The news broke mid-week. Outdoor industry journalist and activist, Sharon Rushton had lost her fight against cancer. In 67 years of life, Rushton left an indelible imprint on the outdoor industry, one that earned recognition from three U.S. Presidents and the Prime Minister of Norway.
Rushton leaves behind a legacy of work including careers with the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (where she was the first woman to hold a position as a Chief, in her role as regional information and education coordinator) and Berkley (as the executive director of the Future Fisherman Foundation) and a catalog of books, videos, photographs and articles stemming from her love of the outdoors and fishing in particular.
At the Future Fishing Foundation, Rushton spearheaded the Hooked on Fishing — Not on Drugs movement, helping to establish aquatic education and sport fishing education programs throughout the U.S. She also oversaw the development of the National 4-H Sport Fishing Program.
Rushton also helped create the Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers! campaign for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Step Outside program for the National Shooting Sports Foundation.
“Sharon was a natural leader,” said FTR Managing Editor Ken Duke.”She always seemed to be on the leading edge of important movements in the outdoors, and especially in the efforts to get more young people involved in fishing and hunting. When I think of her, I always think of her enthusiasm, which seemed boundless. She was an inspiration, and she’ll be missed by more than those who knew her personally.”
Rushton’s most recent book, No Paved Road to Freedom, has been the recipient of three book awards and 5-star reviews on Amazon.
She is survived by her husband James Rushton; her stepson Chris Rushton and his wife Brandi from Fayetteville, Arkansas; and grandson Taggart Rushton; mother Velma Betz of Denver, Colorado; sisters Janet Betz of Denver and Diane west of Windsor, Colorado, nieces Kaeli West and Marissa West-Banninga and her husband Cameron. Sharon was preceded in death by her father Dave Betz.
In lieu of flowers, the family is requesting a donation to the First Christian Church of Kimberling City, Missouri.