Charles D. (Rusty) Flack Jr., loving husband, father and friend to many, died peacefully on May 26, surrounded by family at his home in Dallas, Pa., following a 20-month battle with cancer. He was 56.
A 21-year summer resident of Chappaquiddick and Edgartown, Rusty was the son of Joan Flack Nusbaum and the late Charles D. Flack. He graduated from Wyoming Seminary College Preparatory School and earned a bachelor of arts degree in economics from Susquehanna University. Most recently he was awarded doctor of humane letters, an honorary degree from Misericordia University.
Rusty was chairman of Diamond Consolidated Industries, a Pennsylvania-based manufacturer of perforated metals with operations in Indiana, Texas and North Carolina. He led the fourth generation family business from the age of 24 after the untimely passing of his father. He rescued the business from difficult financial times and along with his partner and brother Harold, built Diamond Consolidated Industries into the largest supplier of perforated metal products in North America.
He had an immense capacity for servant leadership and directed numerous nonprofit organizations in northeastern Pennsylvania and beyond. He received B’nai B’rith’s Community Service Award for unselfish giving and promoting the highest interests of humanity. He earned the Luzerne Foundation’s Mary Bevevino Community Service Award. He and his family were recognized with the Outstanding Philanthropist Award from the Association of Fundraising Professionals.
Most recently he served as chairman of his prep school alma mater, Wyoming Seminary. He also chaired the Wyoming Valley Health Care System, The Luzerne Foundation and the Apple Seed Foundation. He was a past president of the Westmoreland Club in Wilkes Barre, Pa.
His ardent patriotism and love of country translated into service to his favored political party. He was highly sought after as an advisor, motivator and Republican guru in northeastern Pennsylvania. He rallied behind and helped revitalize his county Republican party and enjoyed planning and organizing many high-profile political fund-raisers. He hosted numerous political events and strived to encourage others to become proactive in a positive manner.
Rusty was a voracious reader, an enthusiastic golfer and loved to travel. He loved being on the water. He sailed the Chesapeake, the Virgin Islands and Martha’s Vineyard. A passionate boater, he was a frequent sight cruising on Harvey’s Lake in his beloved classic wooden boat Rumble, often accompanied by his devoted canine companions, Jack and Lola.
Another passion was music. The consummate entertainer, Rusty was an accomplished guitar player whose soft and gentle tenor voice led many of his less talented friends in hearty interpretations of Beatles, James Taylor, Clapton, and CSN harmonies. After learning of his disease, he started each day in the shower, singing Springsteen’s No Retreat! No Surrender!
For many years he and his wife, Kathi, enjoyed their summer home on Chappaquiddick and later in Edgartown. They fell in love with each other and with the Vineyard during summer breaks in college when Kathi worked at the Harbor View Hotel. Some of Rusty’s favorite memories of the Island included family reunions at the Chappy Hilton, beach parties and singalongs on Norton Point, driving along the beach or gathering up a crew of friends in his 1962 red and white Willys jeep, to head up-Island to visit Hugh and Jeannie Taylor’s Outermost Inn.
Faith was a large part of Rusty’s constitution. A lifelong Episcopalian, he served in various capacities at Prince of Peace Church in Dallas, Pa., and Grace Church in Kingston, Pa. He also attended St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Edgartown. Through the years, he was an acolyte, lector, member of the choir, church school teacher and vestryman. It was the strength of his faith that enabled him to face the challenges of his insidious disease, serving as a shining example of bravery and courage in the looming face of death. In his last weeks he frequently quoted a line from the movie Braveheart, reflecting that, “Every man dies. Not every man truly lives.” Rusty Flack believed that he truly lived.
He was preceded in death by his father, Charles, and infant daughter, Ashley. Surviving, in addition to his mother, are his wife of 33 years, Kathi (Stine) Flack, sons Charles 3rd and Alex of Harvey’s Lake, Pa.; daughter Jamie of Philadelphia, Pa.; sister Janet Elizabeth of Kingston, Pa.; brother Harold 2nd of Dallas, Pa., and Chappaquiddick; and several nieces and nephews.
A mass of Christian burial was held at Grace Church in Kingston, Pa. Interment was at Oak Lawn Cemetery. A memorial celebration of Rusty’s life was held at Church of Christ Uniting in Kingston, Pa.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Rusty Flack Memorial Garden at Grace Episcopal Church (through the Luzerne Foundation), the Charles Flack Scholarship Fund of Misericordia University, Wyoming Seminary, or to the charity of choice.