Attention subscribers — Welcome to our new and improved website!
For the month of January, DurantDemocrat.com will be freely available to all readers. No login is required at this time.
If Glendel Rushing had found a job teaching in Bryan County, he may never have served more than half a century as Bryan County Assessor.
Rushing, who retired in December after serving as county assessor since 1965, reflected back on how he chose to run for the office.
“My mom died when I was 7 years old, and my dad raised me,” Rushing said. “When I graduated From Southeastern in 1963, I put my resumes around over the county and closer schools for a teaching job. Nothing was really open in my field at the time and my choice was to go to work here or move away, and I wasn’t about to do that because of my dad. He was in his early 70s at that time and I wasn’t about to leave him, so I ran for office. I always had some political blood flowing in my veins.”
Rushing said he felt like the position was attainable, so he ran for the office.
“As I recall, I had a 20-dollar bill in my pocket and I had a calf that dad had given me, and he gave me 50 dollars for that calf,” Rushing said. “I took that 50 dollars and paid my filing fee, and then for the rest of it, I just ran on faith.”
Rushing faced incumbent assessor Electa Seagraves and candidate Loyd Gannon. Seagraves received 600 more votes than Rushing during the primary, but not enough for a majority. Rushing defeated her in the runoff election, held May 26, 1964, by approximately 1,800 votes.
He was sworn into office on Jan. 4, 1965. At age 24, he was the youngest county assessor in the state. The last time he had an opponent was in 1970, something he said makes him feel honored and blessed.
The assessor’s office is responsible for placing values on real estate for tax purposes. The office also issues homestead exemptions that give property owners a tax break if they live on the property.
The biggest change Rushing has seen in the office is in technology.
“We used to write the assessment rolls and the tax rolls all by hand and in fact, I still have the fountain pen that I used to use when we wrote those books,” Rushing said. “And along about 1991 as I recall, we became computerized, and everything is so much easier and so much faster than it used to be.”
Rushing is the longest-serving county official in the state and there is a monument dedicated to him outside the courthouse.
Asked if he could have predicted he would serve that long after he was elected in 1964, Rushing replied, “Absolutely not. I remember I met the county assessor of Grady County in Chickasha, Ellen Forston, … and she said, ‘Glendel, You’ll be county assessor of Bryan County as long as you want to be,’ and I thought, ‘Yeah, how little do you know.”’ But, I’ve never forgotten that.”
Rushing cited his age as a factor in his decision to retire.
“I just had a birthday December the fifth and I figured that it was time to go,” he said. “I still love my work, love the people I work for, the people I work with, and I still love the job, but I just felt like it was time to retire and move on to something else.”
He doesn’t plan to “just sit down and quit,” though. Quitting is a word that is not in his vocabulary.
Rushing still has his cattle on the family farm at Cobb. Rushing and his wife Carolyn are active members of Calvary Baptist Church and Rushing has been chairman of the deacons for 20 years.
He’s also planning to write a book about his life and the history of Bryan County.
“I plan to write it on my lifetime beginning when I was a little boy and take it through now, and it will include much activity in the assessor’s office, in the city of Durant and Bryan County as a whole,” Rushing said.
The decision to retire though, was not an easy one.
“It was difficult,” Rushing said. “That’s been my life. I was 24 years old when I was sworn in, 23 when I was elected. “Yeah, it’s tough, but I like to say, ‘I realize it’s time.” It’s time to go.”