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Terry Ruscin, prolific author on local history, dies unexpectedly

Terry Ruscin is shown in a Facebook screenshot with his dog, Lucy. Terry Ruscin is shown in a Facebook screenshot with his dog, Lucy.

Terry Ruscin, a researcher, writer and photographer who wrote a half dozen books about his adopted home of Hendersonville, died unexpectedly last week after suffering a medical issue while walking his dog, Lucy, friends said in numerous Facebook posts. He was 70.
Ruscin owned an advertising agency in California before he relocated to Henderson County in 2004 and plunged into deep dives into the history, lore and characters of Hendersonville, Flat Rock and all of Henderson County. From 2007 to 2018, Ruscin wrote and published books on the county's history, ranging from a collaboration with an early mentor and local historian, Louise Howe Bailey, to an admired history of transportation in the southern Appalachian Mountains that traced travel from Cherokee Indian trails to airlines.
 
"I don't golf, I don't fish, I don't whittle," Ruscin explained in a Hendersonville Lightning interview in 2014, when Glimpses of Henderson County was published. "I research and I photograph and I write — that's all I do. And I had an ad agency and I know how to jump through high fiery hoops."
His books include Hendersonville & Flat Rock: An Intimate Tour in 2007;  Historic Henderson County: Tales from Along the Ridges, with Louise Bailey, in 2010; Hidden History of Henderson County (2013), Historic Henderson County (2014), Glimpses of Henderson County (2014) and History of Transportation in Western North Carolina: Trails, Roads, Rails & Air (2016).
A graduate of Wayne State University in Detroit, Ruscin started and ran his own an advertising company in San Diego until he retired early, in 2004, and relocated to Henderson County. He had researched and published coffee table books on the Spanish missions of the Southwest but knew little about his new home in the Blue Ridge Mountains.
"What am I going to do here?" he recalled thinking in the 2014 Lightning interview. "I met Louise Bailey within about three months of coming here. Everybody said I needed to get to know her. Louise said, 'We have plenty of history right here. Then I met Dr. (George) Jones and Jennie Giles and all the other history-passionate researchers and buffs and whatnot. I've been making notes and collecting photographs and making my own photographs for a number of years."
 
On Facebook, a friend from Edneyville shared the news of Ruscin's death.
"This has really saddened me," Kevin Haynes wrote. "My friend and our local historian Terry Russin passed away Wednesday while walking his beloved dog Lucy. I became friends with Terry when I reached out to him and told him he should write one of his books about Edneyville and our history and he became a good friend. We spent many days together while I took and showed him Edneyville and introduced him to people that became friends with him as well.
"Now Lucy is at the animal shelter looking for a home. That also makes me sad for her. Terry wasn't from here, but sure became a part of our community and writing his books showed how much he loved this area. Please keep the friends of Terry in your prayers."

Ruscin was a member of the Henderson County Genealogical and Historical Society and Historic Flat Rock Inc. and had served on the Henderson County Historic Resources Commission. He also wrote a monthly history column for the Times-News.

His death comes less than a year after the community lost another chronicler of Henderson County's history, colorful figures and culture. Thomas E. "Tom" Orr, a retired Hendersonville High School English and drama teacher, director of senior plays for decades and a founder of the Henderson County Walk of Fame, died Jan. 3 at the age of 81. Orr, who traced his roots to the earliest days of Henderson County, and Ruscin, the newcomer, were both regular columnists for the Times-News.

No information on services was immediately available.

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