Wayne Rust was one of the, if not the, most respected and beloved softball umpires in Clermont County and Greater Cincinnati. He passed away recently (Feb. 13) at his Bethel home of an apparent heart attack.
It is estimated that Rust, a 1965 graduate of New Richmond High School and a member of the Lions’ Sports Hall of Fame (inducted 2000), had umpired 35,000 softball games.
“He was the friendliest and most outgoing umpire in Greater Cincinnati,” said Bob “Buck” Owens, the manager of Expressway Park in Milford where Rust assigned umpires and called many games himself.
“Everyone who played softball in the Greater Cincinnati area for the last 40 years knew Wayne and thought of him as a friend.”
The other members of Rust's 2000 induction class into the NRHS Sports Hall of Fame included Doug Ast (class of 1990), David Horn '70, Erin McMahon '87, Paul Rorick '50, and Richard Crawford (Pride of the Lions Award, Amelia High School '68).
For 40 years he was a registered umpire in the American Softball Association and the United States Slowpitch Softball Association (USSSA). In addition to softball he officiated football, basketball, and baseball for the Ohio High School Athletic Association.
In more recent years he served as the Executive Director of the Buckeye Umpire Association from which position he assigned more than 7,500 softball games at Expressway Park and other softball facilities throughout Greater Cincinnati.
His outstanding work as a slow pitch softball umpire was recognized and honored by serving as the umpire in chief of 22 World and National tournaments for USSSA, 78 Ohio State tournaments, and 84 National Invitational tournaments. He was also honored by receiving numerous umpire of the year and umpire in chief awards from organizations throughout the United States.
In 2002, Rust received the USSSA's National Director of Officials Award, one of the two most prestigious awards presented by the USSSA.
Rust had a tremendous love of the game and the people involved in it and around it. He credited two other Clermont County officiating greats for being a major influence on him - Jim Hamilton and Ray Vaughn.
"No one can ever fill his shoes or touch the lives of so many thousands of players and umpires in such a positive way," Owens said.
Rust was the father of Wendi Hazenfield and Heather Rust (deceased) and the grandfather of Samantha Hazenfield and the brother of Allyn, Kay, and Lora.
If you would like to make a contribution to the Wayne Rust Memorial Fund, please send to Theresa Napier, Treasurer, New Richmond Exempted Village School District Board of Education, P. O. Box 372, New Richmond, Ohio, 45157.