Family, friends reflect on Rust
Melody Rust loved a good adventure. From wrangling horses at Yellowstone National Park to camping with loved ones, she felt most at peace in nature.
It’s her adventurous spirit, her loved ones said, that keeps them going after her untimely passing last week. Melody died on Thanksgiving Day at Northwest Arkansas Regional Medical Center in Fayetteville. She was 42.
Melody spent much of her childhood dreaming of horses, her mother, Barbara Rust, said.
“When she was 2 years old, she didn’t want dolls,” Barbara said. “She wanted Breyer horses to play with.”
Melody wanted her own horse, her father, Randal Rust, said, and she got it when he traded a painting for a Quarter Horse. She named that horse Sparky and would ride him into the wilderness with friends, sometimes being gone for a couple of days. Her family was never worried she’d get hurt in the wilderness, Randal said.
“I wasn’t afraid of her and her young friends in the heart of the
wilderness where there’s moose and black bears running around,” he said. “We had no fear of letting her friends saddle up and pack up food and go off into the mountains by themselves. We just knew in our heart they’d be OK.”
Melody’s sister Crystal Rust remembered Sparky’s feisty personality, saying that was the kind of horse Melody adored most.
“She loved that he was wild and spunky,” Crystal said. “That was the kind of horse she always wanted. She liked the horses that were a lot like her.”
Melody worked with horses throughout her life at several places, including Yellowstone National Park, New York and Eureka Springs. Her daughter Callista Audet fondly recalled hearing of Melody’s time at Yellowstone.
“People would come ride the horses through Yellowstone on the trail, and she gave them rides,” Callista said. “She always talked about it like it was the best time in her life. She felt so alive on horses, and she always did. She would ride horses out in the middle of nowhere and be free.”
Melody loved the outdoors, climbing rocks, hiking, kayaking, swimming and floating the river any time she could.
“She could always float no matter what,” Callista said. “She even broke up with a guy one time because he couldn’t float. The outdoors and hiking and camping and being with family was her favorite thing. It’s always when she seemed the most alive.”
“That’s her spirit,” Randal said.
She was a talented artist, working as a graphic designer for several publications. For the last five years, she worked at Carroll County Newspapers designing pages for Carroll County News, Lovely County Citizen and special publications including Currents magazine. Scott Loftis, managing editor for Carroll County Newspapers, said he was always astounded at her talent.
“Melody was the most talented page designer I ever worked with. ‘Page designer’ isn’t even really a fair way to describe her,” Scott said. “She was an artist. But more important than that, she was a truly good person. We are going to miss her terribly. We already do.”
Kelby Newcomb, reporter for Carroll County News, called Melody a great coworker and an amazing friend.
“Her artistic talent blew me away. She had an eye for design like no one I’ve ever met,” Kelby said. “More important than that, she made Eureka Springs feel like home. Melody had an adventurer’s spirit and a bottomless well of love for people in her life. Anyone who got to know her has been forever changed for the better.”
Cindy Worley, office manager at the Lovely County Citizen, remembered Melody’s kind heart.
“Melody was one of the nicest people I have ever met and worked with. Always kind and gracious,” Cindy said. “She was a special person who will be greatly missed by all who had the privilege of knowing her.”
Margo Elliott, who worked with Melody at the Lovely County Citizen for two years, recalled bonding with Melody over their teenage daughters.
“That was something very important to us and a topic of a lot of our discussions,” Margo said. “Even after I left there, I’d go visit from time to time, just to say hi and catch up a bit. I will really miss her.”
Melody’s boyfriend Jason McClung said he will always remember the day he laughed with her for eight hours straight and watched three movies with the volume turned off. His favorite thing about Melody was her modesty.
“She was super talented, she was incredibly beautiful and she would always shrug it off. She was just really modest and down-to-earth,” Jason said. “She had a soft and beautiful way that was all natural.”
Melody’s friend Gideon Keas described her connection to nature, saying he feels more connected to the world because of Melody.
“One of my last trips to the river was with her. We talked about poetry and hiking,” Gideon said. “It was good to be in nature with her. Her ease with the world rubbed off on you. She was controlled and peaceful.”
What she’ll miss most about her mom, Callista said, is how much she cared for her loved ones. Melody would stop by Callista’s work and leave dinner in her car so Callista wouldn’t have to worry about that when she got off.
“Melody was always doing everything she could to take the best care of Callista,” Crystal said. “She was a very good, amazing, amazing mother and caregiver.”
Callista remembered how Melody would encourage her to pursue art, saying she’s grateful to her mom for being so supportive.
“She was an amazing artist. One of the reasons I think I’m so advanced as an artist at my age is because she pushed me so hard,” Callista said. “If I wanted a set of markers that was $300, she got them for me. She did everything she could to encourage me to do what I loved.”
“Melody was not afraid to do what she wanted to do,” Crystal said. “She was just so courageous. She was a very honest person.”
Being honest is the most important lesson Melody taught her, Callista said.
“She was brutally honest with me at times, and I was to her, but I think it’s such an important thing,” Callista said. “She taught me so many beautiful things. She was so beautiful.”
A celebration of life will be held for Melody at 1 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 2, at Lake Leatherwood in Eureka Springs, with a potluck luncheon. To help with funeral expenses, memorial donations may be made to Arvest Bank at 401 W. Trimble in Berryville.