GALVESTON — April 15, 1955 — September 1, 2021
Rusty Lee Herring was born April 15, 1955 to Mae Belle and Hubert Lee (HL, Curly) in Casa Grande, Arizona. He always liked to say he was born in “The Big House”.
His family moved to Southern California, living in different areas, including near San Diego where Rusty grew up riding motorcycles and playing baseball. His cousin, John Wright, introduced him to surfing in California. In the early 60’s, he spent his first summer in Galveston, with his grandfather, renting surfboards at 98th street and sea wall. Rusty’s uncle, Gene Herring, offered him a ‘59 Harley panhead to move to Texas at the age of 15. He attended Ball High School and during summers, helped his uncle with surfboard rentals at 48th, 29th Street and 7 mile road. In between rentals, racking surfboards and lunch, he surfed. He became an accomplished surfer and lover of saltwater. If you rented a surfboard on Galveston Island in the 70’s, you most likely met Rusty.
Starting a family, he lived in and worked maintenance at Clear Lake’s King’s Park apartments, so he could be close to his sister, Doris, and their mother in her final days. He stopped in for coffee every morning and dinner most evenings.
Among many professions, Rusty worked at Schlitterbahn in New Braunfels and taught AC & Refrigeration at the College of the Mainland. He found his way back to Galveston in 1990, making it home for the rest of his life.
In 1994, Rusty began working at the historical 1890 Clarke and Courts building. The vacant building was renovated as apartments and The Strand Lofts for sale in 2014. His knowledge of every inch of the building, it’s construction, inner workings, history, photographic memory of materials and relationships with contractors made him an invaluable asset. He weathered Hurricane Ike there, living in the building for weeks without power to protect the property. During his tenure, ladies brought him baked goods and men sought his counsel. If you lived at 2400 Mechanic Street, you knew Rusty.
He was instrumental in organizing the inaugural Endless Summer Galveston Reunion, September 2015. His photo was featured in The Daily News coverage of the event. A Rene’ Wiley painting of a surfer (modeled after Rusty) was on a postcard to promote surfing. He was stoked that surfing was recognized as an Olympic sport in 2020 and excited about working on the future Galveston Upper Coast chapter of The Texas Surf Museum (TSMUC).
Rusty was a family man with great love and loyalty for his children, grandchild and relatives. He was a true jack of all trades; an American patriot, motorcycle rider, surfer, auto body repairman, mechanic, licensed electrician, teacher, carpenter, plumber and much more. He was a mentor and friend to many. His gentle manner, enthusiastic storytelling and smile will be greatly missed. With his passing, much history, local knowledge and countless stories are forever lost.
Rusty left us to ride the eternal wave on September 1, 2021. The last of his siblings, he is preceded in death by his parents, brothers Jerry and Bobby, sisters Doris Herring and Donna Cochran and former spouse Debbie Bishop. He leaves behind two sons, Michael Herring, Michael’s mother Christy, son Shaun Ward, grandson Tristin Clouse, nieces Misty Aschenbach and Robbie Herring, nephews Bobby Herring, Lonnie Herring, Michael Wayne Herring and several cousins and friends he considered family.
As requested by Rusty, a surfer’s paddle out service will be held at a future date. A celebration of Rusty’s life is planned at The Schaefer House, Post Office & 17th. A function will also be held by the Old Guys Surf Reunion group. Check Rusty’s Facebook page for dates.
Consider donations in Rusty’s name to TSMUC, 309 N Water St, Corpus Christi, TX 78401.
(Photo courtesy of Michael Hawks)