Carolyn Rush, 67, wife of Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Ill., has died.
The congressman made the announcement on Twitter Monday morning.
“Today I have lost my best friend, the love of my life, my confidant and my best half,” Rep. Rush said in a statement issued by his office.
Bobby Rush was at his wife’s bedside, along with her children, when she died of congestive heart failure at the University of Chicago Medical Center.
“This one of the most difficult days of my life. If there is any comfort at all, it is in knowing that Carolyn is no longer suffering and that she has returned to our Father in Heaven,” Bobby Rush said. “I will always cherish her. She was everything to me. I am devastated.”
The congressman added: “I want to thank everyone for their outpouring of love and support over the last several months as Carolyn’s health faded. I want to commend the University of Chicago’s medical staff who provided excellent care for her for the duration of her illness.
“I also express my sincerest appreciation to my colleagues in Congress, and to my constituents for understanding why it was so important for me to be with my wife when I also had to be in Washington. Choosing to be with her until the very end was really no choice for me at all. As her husband it was my duty and as a man of God it was also my responsibility to be by her side.”
Carolyn Rush had suffered bouts of illness in the past.
Bobby Rush spent significant time away from the nation’s capital in 2013 and 2014 to be by his wife’s side.
At the time he told Sun-Times Washington Bureau Chief Lynn Sweet: “My wife’s illness and her condition has dictated it, that I be more or less in the hospital room with her. She is dependent upon me as she should be for support in a lot of different ways.”
Carolyn Rush had been in and out of the University of Chicago hospital because of declining health following open heart surgery, other surgeries and multiple serious health issues, Rush told Sweet in 2014.
Rush further explained that his first duty was “compassion and concern and caring for her in a way only a husband can provide for his wife.”
Rush also said at the time that he did not want to risk not being in Chicago if his wife needed him.
Born May 27, 1949 in Memphis, Tenn., Carolyn Rush moved to Chicago at an early age. She graduated from Hirsch High School and later graduated with high honors from Roosevelt University. In addition to her work as a community organizer, precinct captain and political strategist in many campaigns, she was also instrumental in the Civil Rights movement, working to end discrimination in housing and employment, according to Rush’s office.
“Carolyn Rush was a loving mother, a committed partner to Congressman Rush, and an uplifting voice for compassion and inclusion in the City of Chicago,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in a statement issued by his office. “Amy and I join Chicagoans throughout the city in extending our deepest condolences to Congressman Rush, the entire Rush family, and all those who are mourning her loss.”
In 1999, Bobby Rush’s son Huey Rich died, a victim of gun violence. After Huey was shot, doctors told Rush his son’s condition had stabilized, so Rush left him in the hospital and flew to Washington, where he was part of a conference committee negotiating legislation.
Rush got a call later in the day his son took a turn for the worse. The last plane to Chicago had already left. Rush took the first flight out in the morning.
“Didn’t make it in time,” Rush told Sweet.
Bobby and Carolyn Rush have been married 36 years. She has been Rush’s long-time political adviser as well. Rush represents the South Side 1st Congressional District, elected to Congress for the first time in 1992; before that he was the alderman from the 2nd Ward, first elected to City Hall in 1983.
In 2008, Rush took a leave for several months because of his own health scare, salivary cancer, which required surgery near his jaw.
“Carolyn never left my side when I was diagnosed with cancer. She’s the reason I’m still here,” Rep. Rush said Monday. “I will forever miss my friend.”
She is survived by six children and 11 grandchildren. Funeral arrangements are pending.