Walter “Bill” William Rusch, Jr., 63, of Bristol
BRISTOL — Walter “Bill” William Rusch Jr., passed away this April 2021 in Bristol, Vt., at the age of 63.
Born in Red Bank, N.J., and a graduate of Middletown High School, Bill was an extremely devoted and proud father to his daughter and a man of adventurous spirit, fierce independence, great creativity and generosity. He was an avid skier and cyclist who could usually be found in the outdoors doing what he loved best: bicycle touring, skiing, hiking, camping or sailing with his family.
As a young man growing up in New Jersey, Bill could be found surfing on cold December days just because the surf was up. Ever adventuresome as an adult, he was a world traveler to the far-flung corners of the planet, including cycling the Baja Peninsula, exploring Southeast Asia and the Siem Reap temples of Cambodia, eating fabulous Southeast Asian street food and absorbing many different cultures.
But hands down, his favorite way to spend his time was skiing with his daughter, June. She called him “Poppy.” From a young age, June was the happy recipient of his ski-teaching prowess. His downhill skiing adventures took him to the slopes of Austria, British Columbia, Colorado, Utah and Vermont. He skied the backcountry, too: Colorado’s 10th Mountain Division huts, Loveland Pass, Mont., Washington’s Tuckerman Ravine, and Fairy Meadow hut environs in western Canada.
Bill turned his passion for the outdoors into work opportunities, spending 40 winters as a ski instructor in Austria and at the U.S. resorts of Hidden Valley, Waterville Valley, Loon Mountain, Tenney Mountain, Copper Mountain and Sugarbush. At Waterville Valley he taught Ethel Kennedy’s grandchildren and was the private instructor for John Sununu, the New Hampshire governor.
Bicycling was another favorite outdoor pursuit of Bill’s. He was a bike tour leader for 14 years with Easy Rider Tours, where his favorite trips to guide were in Ireland. No grass grew under his feet between tours, when he would often hop on cheap Ryan Air flights for biking trips in Italy, Portugal, France and Spain.
He subsequently worked at and led many tours for VBT Bicycling Vacations. There he was so well liked by guests that he consistently received a 100% rating — and as VBT’s top guide earned an all-expenses-paid bike tour of Italy.
Many VBT guests lent an ear to hear him tell proud Poppy tales about his daughter. From the time June could ride her littlest bike, she and Mary would meet Bill and VBT guests on tour. There he would introduce them to his guests. He was so proud of June and her ability to ride a bike at a young age. (Lucky for her parents that June really enjoyed cycling.)
Bill would chat with anyone, and people loved his easygoing nature. His ready, crooked grin and unique character will be forever missed by his life partner, Mary Yates, and their daughter, June; his two siblings, Lauren Rusch Waldner of Vienna, Austria, and Douglas Rusch of Colorado Springs, Colo.; his niece, Davielle Waldner; his nephews, Erik Waldner, Douglas Rusch Jr. and Matthew Rusch; and by his countless friends. Bill was predeceased by his niece, Rose Annmarie Rusch, and his parents, Beverly Geiling Rusch and Walter William Rusch, Sr.
A memorial service will be held at a later date. Donations in his memory may be made to Lawrence Memorial Library, 40 North St., Bristol, VT 05443, or lawrencelibraryvt.org/make-a-donation.
Bill was a free spirit and gentle soul who will be remembered by many.◊
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