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Letters to Rush

We invited readers to send letters of remembrance. Here are some of our favorites.
| From Dan Aykroyd, May/June 2021
Letters to Rush
Photo/Benjamin Rusnak
Limbaugh was an ardent supporter of the Els for Autism charity. At the 2017 Els for Autism Pro Am at Old Palm, from left, Rudolf W. Giuliani, Branden Grace, Limbaugh and Marvin R. Shanken.

When Rush Limbaugh died on February 17, Cigar Aficionado posted a blog about his passing by editor and publisher Marvin R. Shanken. The story also appeared in the March/April edition of the magazine.

Dear Marvin,

I so enjoyed the column “I Owed Rush So Much” that I re-upped my Cigar Aficionado subscription for two more years. While I never met him, he influenced my life, and millions of other Americans.  I can remember in the ’90s my elementary-aged son would introduce me as “Here’s my dad. He voted for Bill Clinton.” I had been a dyed-in-the-wool liberal for decades. My son told me he got his information from Rush Limbaugh. Consequently, on long car trips, we started listening to Rush and I found out he made sense. So, as I have progressed with my cigars from Rum River Crooks to premium labels, so has my awareness of the values preached by Rush. He died way too early. 

J. Christopher Noah, Ph.D. 
Evans, Georgia 

Dear Marvin,

In 1993, I was 10 years old and can recall listening to Rush on the radio with my father.  Rush was so intelligent, but even for me at such a young age, I was able to comprehend what he was saying. He had this way about him and was so passionate about what he believed in when he spoke it made sense to me. You said it best in your memoriam letter to him in the most recent issue: “He was truly a man of the people.”

As I got older, my father and I bonded over Rush’s radio show and books he wrote. I still have his books in my collection today. Rush knew what he was talking about and knew his audience. It wasn’t that he paid attention to those who didn’t listen to him, he paid attention to those who did listen to him—that’s what made him so successful.

Since turning 25 I have always enjoyed a cigar on my birthday.  For the past eight years I have been smoking cigars more often and enjoy sharing stories with old friends who I grew up with as well as making new ones over the bond of a cigar. It seems like you and Rush had a great relationship and I am sorry for your loss.  

Pete Vassallo
Syracuse, New York

Dear Marvin,

I started listening to Rush when I got back from my U.S. Army tour in 1991. My family and I had been in Germany since 1987 so we missed the start of his national show in 1988. We liked him immediately because, as was often observed, he was saying what we were thinking. My wife and I recognized and admired his intellect, wit and insight. His comments were on point and ahead of the popular consensus and groupthink. Listening to him made us smarter about life, politics and history. We could tell, as could anyone that actually listened, that he was honest, patriotic and sincere.

The saying that “Rush is right” said it all. He was correct 99.9 percent of the time and his observations were correct, insightful and brilliant. I liked his comment that we could trust him to babysit our kids. His patriotism was boundless and inspiring. His work in charitable causes was tremendous and the Rush Revere series will have a long-lasting impact with younger generations. 

Finally, I want to express my sincerest and heartfelt sympathy to his wife, family and work family. We are among millions that loved and admired him throughout the years. Sad to know he will not be back on the radio. 

JM Rodriguez and Family
El Paso, Texas

Dear Marvin,

I didn’t personally know Rush Limbaugh, but he was my friend and my companion. I found comfort and inspiration in an unlikely place, and for that I will be forever grateful.  The fact that he liked cigars only increased my delight in listening to his radio show. Here’s to you, Rush, from a fellow thrill seeker, music lover, conversationalist and cigar lover.

Nicholas Amato
Moline, Illinois 

Dear Marvin,

Over the years of listening to Rush Limbaugh, an enjoyable break from the serious issues of the day were the occasions when Rush would pause to light a premium cigar and expound on its virtues. Occasionally, a caller would ask Rush for advice on cigar brands and the nuances of smoking them. (Once or twice Rush would complain that his cigar was not drawing well, which made me think, “Well, even Rush Limbaugh occasionally struggles with a cigar.”)

A few years ago, Rush mentioned that he was taking a few days off for golf and to make a cigar run. I wanted to call in and tell him that my cigar run consists of driving four miles to my local tobacco shop and buying a few sticks and if I were feeling flush, springing for a full box.  I would have loved to ask Rush what his cigar run was like—perhaps taking the jet south of the border to visit the factories, meet with the owners and come back with dozens of boxes. How fun it would have been to accompany him on one of those trips!

Mike George
Spokane, Washington

Dear Marvin,

Rush Limbaugh was my only friend at one point in time. The year was 2011, I just came back from a college year abroad and I started something new: A new school in a new town with no one I knew. In between class I’d run to my car for a break, grab some food and dial up the radio. One morning, the car reset and 770 AM went on blasting and my conservative talk radio days began. I never missed a month, I never missed a week and for the past five years, never a day. When I was young, maybe nine or 10, my mother used to play this guy who called himself El Rushbo; later I’d find out that it was Mr. Rush Limbaugh.

Rush is like an uncle to me, who has been there for the good, the bad and the ugly. His wisdom, wit, brevity, debonair and just simple love for life is what made him stick out. Aside from being a pioneer and then a titan in the radio and broadcasting arena, he was also simply a good man.

Rush was a large part of my inspiration for creating my own businesses. He gave some of the best advice to us millennials, entrepreneurs and blue collar workers than anyone else—and I’ve heard everyone else. It wasn’t just about what Rush did for me (and over 200 million listeners over his career), it was what he was able to bring out of every soul he was able to reach out to.

My afternoons will never be the same. Life won’t ever be the same. But I will prevail. I’m deeply saddened by the loss of Rush, I know he’s with us in spirit on the waves of radio. Your “talent on loan from God,” as you used to say Rush, is now back home. 

Izak Held
Long Island, New York

Dear Marvin,

Regardless of ideology, Rush was a pioneer in my industry. His success paved the way for executives to find ways to monetize talk radio and sports talk radio. Because of that, talent, producers, salespeople of all races and walks of life benefitted. Rush is one of the reasons we’ve built a multimillion-dollar business. He was an icon, trailblazer and disruptor. What a lion. 

Bo Bounds
Jackson, Mississippi

Dear Marvin,

Cigars are a great uniter. I wouldn’t care about the amount of melanin in your body, the way you might choose to practice your faith, the way you define your gender, what you will or won’t eat or your political persuasion; you offer me a premium, hand-rolled cigar and you’re my friend for life. Rush’s show wasn’t my cup of tea but I wouldn’t have turned down a chance to sit and smoke with him. R.I.P. When fun is outlawed, only outlaws will have fun.

Jim Richardson
Cherryland, California

Dear Marvin,

In the summer of 1991, I had heard a little about this guy on the radio who was labeled a whacko by the local news media and used rock music in his broadcasts. Then a friend at work said I had to try him so I did. Wow! Here was a guy who was saying all the things I already staunchly believed in. No one ever talked like this guy. His name was Rush Limbaugh. It didn’t take but a couple of shows and I was hooked.

Over the years, I have been a constant listener. Rush’s combination of wit, truth and humor made him so easy to listen to. Whenever he would “tweak” the “libs” it was just like icing on the cake. And he would always, always back up what he said with facts. Like he said, he was always 99 percent right! When Rush talked on the radio it felt to me that he wasn’t talking to me or at me, but with me, like I was family or a friend. Over the years, I learned of his great generosity. He would always talk about the cigar dinners, the Els golf outing and other charitable endeavors and I felt a part of them through him. Then when I subscribed to Cigar Aficionado and saw all the pictures of those events, I really felt a part of it all. That was one thing Rush was so good at. He would pull me in and make me feel a real part of what was happening even if I was unable to participate myself. When he announced that he had cancer it was like an older brother telling me. I hoped and prayed that God would allow him to be the one in a million who would beat it, but that wasn’t to be. Now I’m left with an empty feeling for him in my heart, but praise God that I was so privileged to listen to him for the almost 30 years that I did and be part of his radio family. 

Listening to Rush talk about cigars on the radio was what first got me interested in them. Up until then, I really knew very little about them. Hearing him talk about the Fuente Fuente OpusX and the La Flor Dominicana Double Ligero Chisel really intrigued me. I read a lot about them after that and had my first cigar (a Romeo y Julieta) at my daughter’s wedding reception. I thought, “Yeah, I can do this!” and that’s when I started smoking them. Since then, I have become an avid cigar smoker with one of my favorites being that LFD Double Ligero Chisel Rush talked about. Also hearing Rush talk about Cigar Aficionado is what led me to the magazine. Him talking about being on the cover and of the quality of the magazine made me think I might be interested. I bought a couple of issues from the newsstand and then my wife bought me a subscription for Christmas and I’ve been reading the articles and enjoying the pictures, especially of all things Rush, ever since.

So now Rush is gone, but I can still enjoy the cigars and the magazine that were so a part of his life and have now become, through him, so large a part of mine. Thank you Rush, for all you stood for, the character you exuded every day and the things you brought into my life. 

Alexander R. Piek Jr.
New Lenox, Illinois

Dear Marvin,

I stumbled on Rush’s show one afternoon in 1989 while driving my marketing territory in Southern Indiana. I believe he was interviewing his grandfather, who was turning 100. I was mesmerized by their discussion of politics, conservative thought and patriotism. I was hooked. My wife and I shared the loss of his passing while listening to Kathryn open his show in our car. “What a guy!” doesn’t even begin to express how much his audience misses his insight, wit, intelligence “on loan from God” and just plain talent. Impossible act to follow. 

Dan Greer
Newburgh, Indiana

Dear Marvin,

Being an early ’80s baby, I grew up hearing the name “Rush Limbaugh,” but it wasn’t until I became a driver for an autobody parts company in my mid 20s that I began listening to his show. I always seemed to slow down so I could hear every word, or as many as possible, between deliveries. There will never be another Rush.

Mark Butler
Vidalia, Georgia

Dear Marvin,

I am 34 years old and a married father of three.  I also have mild cerebral palsy, which, throughout my life, has given me a few “extra hoops” to jump through yet as Rush so eloquently said, an unwavering faith in God and a belief in hard work, opportunity and the American Dream helped me to become the successful man I am today.

I first started listening to Rush as a freshman in high school. Throughout my teen years and into adulthood, I developed a powerful bond with my late grandfather, who also loved Rush. Some of my fondest memories of are of listening to Rush with my grandfather when I used to go on summer vacation to my grandparents’ home on the coast of Maine. We’d listen as my grandfather regaled me with stories about growing up in the Depression, and the importance of faith, family, hard work and patriotism. Grampie always said, “Rush tells it like it is.”

In college, my best friend’s dad introduced me to cigars, and now I often host friends over for whiskey, cigars and conversation about current events. A great time is had by all.

I lost my grandfather this past Thanksgiving at age 90. I think of him every day. When I heard the news of Rush’s passing, I smiled through my sadness, as I thought of how Rush and my beloved grandfather are now sharing wonderful conversation and laughter up in Heaven. I just hope they have cigars up there.

Michael Lewis
Spotsylvania, Virginia

Dear Marvin,

I was the program director/morning talk host for WMAC in Macon, Georgia, for a number of years. We were a Rush affiliate. In a serendipitous meeting at Patsy’s in New York, Rush came by my family’s table, I introduced myself and we carried on a 15-minute conversation about radio and his love of the restaurant. As Marvin said in his recent column, Rush was gracious, warm and friendly. He told me to remember the key to a successful radio show. People want three things: 1. To be entertained, 2. To be entertained, 3. To be entertained.

It was a surreal moment for me and one I treasure always.

Kenny Burgamy
Macon, Georgia

Dear Marvin,

I will never get over the loss of Rush Limbaugh. To be honest, I never thought we would ever really lose him. He was larger than life. I first met Rush when I joined the workforce in 1989 after law school when I was driving to work in Los Angeles and there was a giant billboard advertising his show. I tuned to KFI and heard Rush talking, and it was like God had finally spoken to me. Living in L.A. was like culture shock—the state had started its liberal turn and having Rush for my morning drive made a huge difference in my life. It was like knowing you weren’t all alone.

He got me through the Clinton and Obama years and so many of my talking points came from Rush. I’ve been on the show with him three times on Open Line Fridays, mostly talking about cigars. Rush was very aware of his impact on this country, its values and politics overall. For me, it began with his ability to decipher and dissect media bias and narratives, which made him so unique and important. Nobody was doing that before Rush and he really innovated things we talk about and take for granted today. If I could have met Rush in person, I would’ve told him that he has meant more to more people in this country than any other person in any form of media, politics or business. His impact was indelible and permanent, and his dignity, class, intelligence, wit and wisdom will be remembered for generations.

Wayne S. Kreger
New York, New York

Dear Marvin,

Thank you so much for your very personal, heartfelt tribute to Rush. We’ve lost a giant.

Gil Kohn
Boca Raton, Florida

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