Dick Rush retires after 23-year career at State Chamber of Oklahoma
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Published: 27-Mar-2010

Patrick B. McGuigan

Published: 27-Mar-2010

Richard P. “Dick” Rush, CEO and President of the State Chamber of Oklahoma since September 1986, received a hero’s send-off last Thursday evening in anticipation of his retirement from the Sooner State’s top economic development job. Joining in the celebration was former state Rep. Fred Morgan, who is leaving the state Senate staff to replace Rush. Rush won numerous awards as one of the nation's most effective state Chamber president's in the "real world" of state legislative politics.

Rush received warm words of farewell from around the world, in the form of video tributes from top economic development officials in mainland China. Former state Sen. Enoch Kelley Haney, south Oklahoma City businessman Rudy Alvarado and leading Oklahoma political leaders, including Senate President Pro Tem Glenn Coffee, hailed Rush for his historic tenure at the Chamber.

Governor Brad Henry’s proclamation declaring “Dick Rush Day” was presented, along with a parody song of tribute from this writer, on behalf of the Oklahoma City Gridiron Club.

The evening was full of sentimental and substantive reflections on Rush’s career. Rush provided a gracious response to the evening’s speakers and presentations, saying he loved the work he did for more than two decades to advance the Oklahoma and national economy.

Rush led the State Chamber during the tumultuous campaign for right to work in 2001. One presenter was his rival in that campaign, Jimmy Curry of the state AFL-CIO, who left Rush and others at Thursday’s event weeping with laughter after a presentation of “honors” from members of the state’s largest labor union.

Master of Ceremonies for the evening was former Oklahoma Governor George Nigh, who leavened the seriousness of the ceremonies through witty dialogue with Pat Hall and Jim Dunlap, among others. Kris Rush, Dick’s wife, joined in the gala celebration. She runs the Prosperity Project, concentrating on the election of candidates at all levels who are favorable to business and economic development.

In 2009, Rush was winner of the U.S. Chamber’s Legislative Achievement award in 2009 and the American Tort Reform Association’s Gold Medal award for best state Civil Justice legislation. He also won special recognition for running America’s sixth best state for Chamber member retention.

Rush’s replacement, Fred Morgan, is a veteran state legislator. When Morgan’s move to the Chamber was announced in January, Senate President Pro Temp Coffee said, “Fred Morgan is a respected former legislator as well as a trusted and valued Senate staffer. His experience and knowledge of the inner workings of the State Capitol and his history of bipartisan cooperation will serve the State Chamber well. I wish my friend, Fred Morgan, all the best in his new endeavor.”

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