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Rousas John Rushdoony, My Brother

By Haig A. Rushdoony
April 01, 2001

In 1915, our parents along with my mother's sister, her husband and son, Edward Esajian, were alerted to leave their home, Van, and the country, Turkey. The Turks were coming to Van, killing all Armenians within sight and could not be contained. The notification came from the British, who considered our father, Y. K. Rushdoony, a British subject since he had studied and lived in Edinburgh, Scotland, for seven years. Given a disabled horse by a retreating Russian officer for whom my mother had done cooking and washing, the folks left Turkey before the Turkish massacres reached Van. They ultimately arrived at Archangel, Russia.

After six months of running, as God would have it, a representative of the American Consulate overheard our parents speaking in English at the edge of a curb in the city. He took them into the Consulate Office and gave them a choice of going to England or the U.S.A. They chose the latter and traveled to New York City where Rousas was born. That same year, our father accepted his first pastorate in Kingsburg, California (he had received his B. D. degree from New College Seminary after graduating from the University of Edinburgh).

Except for six years (1925-31) Rousas lived in Kingsburg, graduating from Kingsburg High School he served as Student Body President, editor of the school yearbook and as an "end" on the football team. The six year gap was spent in Detroit, Michigan shortly after my birth. Our sister, Rose, had been born earlier in Kingsburg as well.

After high school, Rousas went to a community college for two years. In 1933, when our father was called to start a church in San Francisco, Rousas rejoined us. He graduated from U. C. Berkeley with B.A. and M.A. degrees and was in seminary when I was drafted into the U.S. Army.

Rousas' first assignment was to serve teenagers and young adults in the Cumberland Chinese Church in Chinatown, San Francisco. After graduation from seminary, he accepted a position as missionary to the Shoshone and Paiute Indians in northeastern Nevada and southwestern Utah. While at the mission, one of his former students at the Chinese San Francisco Church completed his seminary work and spent a year with Rousas at the Shoshone Mission.

After serving the Shoshone Indians, Rousas pastored two churches in California. While in the pastorate he began writing, first in secular journals and then in Christian publications. He returned to the San Francisco Bay Area to become a resident scholar for a secular foundation for three years. Here his writings began in earnest.

As Chalcedon Report readers are aware, Rousas founded the Chalcedon Foundation in 1965, which has become a tremendous influence worldwide in the Christian community. He is considered by many to be the father of the modern Christian and home school movements, as well as the Christian Reconstruction movement. He has authored over 40 books in which God is central.

Rousas and his beloved wife, Dorothy, are very dear to both Vula, my wife, and me. We love them both dearly and they us. As we visited them, we liked to question my brother on many issues, theological or otherwise, as I found him possibly more read on issues on which he disagreed than those who espoused them. He often articulated the "other side(s)" better than they would, even though he was opposed to their viewpoint. He would then systematically explain why he disagreed and explain succinctly his own position. Rousas had the uncanny ability to get specifically and candidly to the point so there would be no doubt in one's mind what he believed. Many other conversations focused on family, using his remarkable photographic memory. Our deep regret is that only a few of those conversations were ever taped or written down.

He was interested and knowledgeable in art in which he had minored at the university. He was a great classical music lover. In his college days, when he would come home, he would turn on the radio to a classical music station of his choice and walk around the room to the music. When I questioned him as to why "all this walking," his reply was as always short and to the point, "It helps me to release the tensions of the day."

He had a marvelous sense of humor. When his cousin Ed, who escaped Turkey with his parents and ours, and Rousas were together, they easily moved back and forth between the serious and the humorous. They were two years apart in age and in many ways were like brothers. Ed's brother and I were the youngest in our families. Ed preceded Rousas to eternity by 20 years. He had lost a dear cousin really too early in life.

As those who knew him well know, Rousas was a voracious and rapid reader. One day when we were at Ed's parent's home, Rousas was reading, flipping pages quite readily. Ed stopped him remarking, "How can you remember what you're reading? Who are you trying to impress?" He took the book from Rousas and began to quiz him. Ed never stopped him again as Rousas literally re-told Ed what was in print. That photographic memory appeared again!

Rousas would become very emotional at times. On one such occasion during our visit, he became teary eyed, commenting, "Haig, Papa always wanted you to enter the ministry. After all these years, he must be pleased now that you are doing mission work in the Balkans." During the last two years as I would regularly phone him, he would respond in terms of his condition with, "I'm fading." He dearly loved Vula and at the point of crying would say, "Give my love to Vula."

The last time I saw him before he died was on Saturday, February 3. I found him unable for the first time to focus on a conversation. As we left I gave him God's blessings and told him we loved him and to take care. He responded, "I'll be all right." Previously, many times he had indicated that he was ready "to join my family above." On February 8, after a dramatic family reunion he fell asleep and joined his Lord and family in heaven. His life exemplified a truly dedicated Christian while with us. He is deeply loved and missed! But, he has now "joined his family above." We are looking forward to joining him someday. His life, his writings, and his tapes will long outlive us all.

I was the kid brother. Rousas now has left me as the patriarch of the Rushdoony family. His life, because of Jesus Who saved him and the Holy Spirit Who freed him to love and to serve God and us, will be an everlasting memory. He will remain with me to eternity. My life has been so overwhelmingly enriched, first by my beloved parents and sister and now by my big brother. Thank you for permitting me to share my brother with you. May our Triune God bless you all.


Topics: Biography, R. J. Rushdoony

Haig A. Rushdoony

Haig Rushdoony (1925 - 2010) was the younger brother of R.J. Rushdoony. He served as a teacher, university professor,  bedore receiving his doctorate. After retirement, he and his wife, Vula, founded The Macedonian Outreach in 1989 (www.macedonianoutreach.org), a Christian charitable organization, which helps meet the spiritual and physical needs of people in the Balkan Peninsula of Southeastern Europe. 

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