As thousands of testimonials and reminiscences poured in following news of Rush Limbaugh’s death, one of the most poignant was shared with Newsmax by prominent politician Peter Kinder, who was friends with the talkmeister since their childhood days in Cape Girardeau, Missouri.
“The Kinders had four sons and the Limbaughs had two sons — not a sister in sight,” recalled Kinder, former lieutenant governor and state Senate president of the Show Me State.
Kinder, nearly four years younger than Limbaugh, pointed out that when growing up, Rush Limbaugh III was known as “Rusty” to distinguish himself from his father and grandfather. Rush Limbaugh Sr., a onetime state legislator, lived to be 104 and, according to Kinder, “went to the family law office almost up to his last days.”
Many in Cape Girardeau who saw young “Rusty” play baseball for the Babe Ruth League felt professional sports was in his future. As Kinder told us, “He was a long-ball hitter and could hit home runs with ease.”
At Cape Central High School, football became Limbaugh’s sport of choice. He was a varsity kicker as a sophomore and so good at it that he earned a varsity letter — “something you don’t usually get as a sophomore,” said Kinder.
But any possible career as collegiate or professional athlete was doomed as 16-year-old “Rusty” found a new passion in radio.
“His Dad had an interest in our local KGMO Radio station and every morning at 6 a.m., Rusty was on the air at the station,” Kinder told us. “Then he’d go to school and when he was through at 3:30, he was back on the air, talking.”
Limbaugh would get through two semesters at Southeast Missouri State College, but after that he threw himself completely into broadcasting.
As his role as a national figure in radio punditry began to take off in the 1980s and he did a speaking tour known as “Rush to Excellence,” Kinder often called to admonish this reporter: “Keep your eye on Rush. He’s going places.”
The Limbaugh and Kinder families always remained close. As he got into politics, Kinder worked with Rush’s attorney brother David on several projects. Rush, who almost never backed candidates for office, recorded a ringing radio endorsement for Kinder beginning with his election to the state Senate and in his unsuccessful primary bid for governor in 2016.
“Peter is a very good friend of mine,” went the Limbaugh spot, “which shows you he has good taste.”
When Kinder’s physician father James died following a car collision in 2000, Rush came to their home to visit the injured widow Mary — his mother Millie’s best friend and singing partner. He was a pallbearer for her funeral in 2017.
“Rush Limbaugh was a giant from the heartland,” said Kinder. “And, most importantly to me, he was my lifelong friend.”
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.
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