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Rush McKay, ex-VHS coach, dies at 64

[7/18/04]Singleton Rush McKay III, who served as head football coach at Vicksburg High from 1978-83, died Friday at his home in Leakesville. He was 64.

Mr. McKay also coached at South Vicksburg High in 1971, leading the Greenies to a 4-6 record before assuming the position of athletic director from 1972 to 1973. After a brief stint in the insurance business, he returned to coaching at Vicksburg High in December 1977.

In 1978, his first season, he led the Gators to a 10-2 record and the Delta Zone Big Eight title. He earned the Big Eight Conference Coach of the Year award for his efforts. The following season, VHS posted a 9-2 record, won the Big Eight North title, and was ranked No. 1 in the state.

The Gators, who were 4-6 the year before Mr. McKay arrived, never had a losing season on his watch. In his five seasons at the helm, they were 38-18 and reached the Big Eight playoffs twice.

Mr. McKay left Vicksburg in 1983 to coach at Perry Central, and later coached at Petal. After retiring from coaching, he served as an independent life and health insurance agent in the Leakesville area. He served as a charter Elder of Faith Presbyterian Church where he taught Sunday School.

During his coaching career, Mr. McKay also had stops at Columbus Lee and Laurel. Before he became a coach, he played football at Ole Miss from 1958-62 and was drafted by the NFL’s Green Bay Packers.

“Rush was the type of guy that was all business on the field, but he had a great sense of humor,” said Vicksburg resident Kayo Dottley, himself a former Ole Miss star and longtime friend of Mr. McKay. “You had to be careful around him, because you never knew when he was kidding and when he wasn’t.”

Mr. McKay is survived by his wife of 42 years, Martha Baker McKay; his mother, Loretta Thomas McKay of Leakesville; a daughter, Sweyn Simrall of Jackson; a son Mac McKay of Petal, and four grandchildren.

Services will be at 2 p.m. today at Freeman Funeral Home in Leakesville. Burial will follow at the Thomas Family Cemetery.

Visitation will be at noon today at the funeral home. Donations may be made to the building fund of Faith Presbyterian Church, P.O. Box 514, Leakesville, MS, 39541.