Rusty Thorn went to his last roundup on Sunday, January 28th, 2024. He is survived by his long-time gal pal Linda Campbell, his daughter Stephanie Fillmore (Jeffrey), son David Thorn (Lori), grandsons Stephen and Samuel, granddaughters Amelia and Estelle, his sisters Glenda, Bonnie, and Laura, many nieces and nephews, two dogs, and a cat. He was preceded in death by his sister Hazel and his parents Woodrow and Elizabeth. He was 78 years old.
Rusty was born prematurely in Douglas, AZ and was given a different name at birth. His uncle Leo Thorn saw this tiny, red baby in the incubator and asked why he was all rusty and the name stuck. Rusty was raised in Yuma and started his family there. In 1974 they moved to Peoria where he lived for many years. The 1970s were complicated times and the marriage didn’t last but Rusty maintained a cordial relationship with his children’s mother’s family. He attended birthday parties, Thanksgiving, and Christmas celebrations with them. In 1983 he met Linda Campbell and they have been inseparable for 40 years.
When he was young, Rusty raced horses, roped steers, rode bulls, and was a member of the Rodeo Cowboys Association. His roping partner and life-long friend Earl Higgins called him Sticker. Rusty was a member of the International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 428, for over 30 years and could drive almost anything with wheels or tracks. His unparalleled work ethic and nearly obsessive attention to detail made him a valued employee and co-worker. Rusty was also a remarkable self-taught craftsman who made hundreds of horse bits, spurs, brands, and almost anything else made from metal. If you have a bit with ‘RT’ stamped on it, take care of it because they aren’t making any more of them.
Rusty was organized, meticulous, punctual, polite, and tidy. He was creative, possessed a keen eye for design, and was generous with his family and neighbors. He loved his dogs and the only time his children ever saw him weep was when his beloved Little Bit, a red Queensland heeler, died. He is with her now in that place where dogs never die, horses never get crippled, and old cowboys sit up straight in their saddles and ride on forever.
A Celebration of Life will be held on Saturday, February 24th, 2024 between 11:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. at Thompson Funeral Chapel, 926 S. Litchfield Rd., Goodyear, AZ. In lieu of flowers consider making a donation to Hospice of the Valley.