Rusty Green knew how to make money

Every time you pass the old Fort Frances High School, ask yourself a question: would Rusty Green want to buy that red brick mountain?
As it stands here today, big, beautiful, and abandoned—with nobody seemingly interested in whether it lives or dies—why would anyone covet it? And who was Rusty Green anyway?
Well, around the time we aroused jealousy clean across Canada for our achievements of all kinds, thereby earning the title of New Atlantis, there appeared here a modest, sandy-haired fellow who became our greatest all-around businessman.
R.V. (Rusty) Green started off locally as a mortician and then a furniture merchant, later becoming a brewer and real estate developer, and eventually an all-around speculator in almost any line you could mention.
Nor did he ever knowingly antagonize anyone in his brilliant career.
His friends, in fact, grew with his fame until Rusty could conceivably fill any elected position he would ever want. He served on our Chamber of Commerce during its long pursuit of a highway eastward and toiled shoulder-to-shoulder with the stalwarts of his day, Mayor Bert Holmes, MPP Bill Noden, George Armstrong, and the others who got us the direct route out of here.
He also served on the local school board and had a hand in our school building projects. Between that and his inspired survey and sales of all the vast acreage formerly covered by lumber piles in the centre of town, Rusty served an apprenticeship in residential development such as few others ever experienced here.
So Rusty would regard our old high school as just another challenge while nobody else bothered with it. Happily, he could envision it offering space for more stores, apartments, or condos, with probably extra room enough for a new furniture factory to fill all those new homes.
Rusty’s talent with people might bring in a dozen or more fresh franchises and agencies to fill surplus space. After all, the high school sits just around the corner from his furniture store and that connection would be obvious as he sized up all the angles.
Similar to his use of the old lumber yards, the school with its 52 classrooms, workshops, offices, and gymnasiums would be offering Rusty another residential bonanza—and just when the community has begun thinking for itself again and attracting fresh outside capital.
Of course, back of all this there would be our opportunist who know the banks can hand over all the money he will need to start—and interest rates were never more attractive.
I knew energetic Rusty quite well so I ventured to question him during a social evening in his last home at the new undertaking parlour. Why had he moved in there, I wondered, and his answer was pure Rusty!
“Vandetti,” he said, “you’ve got to foller your dollar!”
There was an incident of some national interest that offered another look at him. As silt from dredging at Atikokan flowed into Rainy Lake and smeared a black patch of dirt across the North Arm from Seine Bay, Rusty got on the telephone to Steep Rock Iron Mines president Fotheringham, who rushed in by airplane next day to make amends.
Rusty told me as the only Fort Frances businessman holding stock in that mining company, he could not stand to see all that silt contaminating his locally-made beer. He feared it could spoil the popular taste of his Columbine brand and, no doubt, Mr. Fotheringham got to carry a case or two back to Atikokan.
Rusty was always the man of action.
That last statement was widely regarded as the cause of his death. Barely 70, he threw on his overcoat at the store one wintery day and went out to help push a car on a parking lot.
They say the heart that made Rusty so well-loved in all his endeavours gave out at last—and the result was a community filled with mourning.
Our chief entrepreneur, who had given us all the guidance we needed to keep on growing, was indispensable here. He also was a great sportsman, flying to James Bay for duck hunting with Rusty Myers and backing our senior hockey Canadians to the hilt.
After they won the Allan Cup and their old management was dissolved, Rusty got together with a new committee every Wednesday evening in the dining room of White Pine Inn, where owner Morris Crawford presided as the new team manager.
Rusty probably never missed a meeting for seven years, sitting in with Dr. W.G. Boyle, the team doctor, Gordon Baldwin of the O-M Papermill staff, Peter Jensen, the druggist, and Gordon McBride of CFOB and myself. And if any money question came up, Rusty could answer it from his experience.
With his talented wife, Signe, the artist whose large outdoor scene I cherish, and their three children, Dr. Bob, and storekeeper Van and daughter Nancy, a good golfer, and Van’s sons, the Greens, were among our favourite families always.
Appreciate Rusty and his peers who kept on blazing the way and knew how to capitalize on situations others avoided—like our old high school.
• • •
Mention our Allan Cup Canadians often this year, their 50th anniversary since claiming the championship of all Canada back in the days when that was really something.
It may never be the same, other leagues and classes of hockey having captured attention, including the newly-reconstituted American Hockey League where son-in-law, coach Dave Allison, invaded Winnipeg with his Milwaukee squad.
But the Canadians gathered for some publicity last weekend and will be staging their big get-together here March 8.

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