Richard “Rusty” Wailes
Rusty was born in Seattle in 1936 and later that year moved to Edmonds. He attended Edmonds High School. There he met the woman he eventually married, Lenore “Lynne” Wailes. His father and brother rowed for the University of Washington but Rusty earned an academic scholarship to Yale University and enrolled there to study engineering. At Yale he began his rowing career, which was a very successful one as he won a gold medal in both the 1956 Melbourne and 1960 Rome Olympics.
At Melbourne, he was a member of an eight-oared team that beat other collegiate teams in the Olympic Trials and that set a world record in 5 minutes, 52 seconds. He then returned to Yale to continue his studies and rowing career and was elected captain of the crew as a senior. While at Yale, his crews defeated Harvard four consecutive years in the Harvard-Yale Regatta. In the Rome Olympics, Rusty’s team included former Yale crewmate, John Sayre, and two other rowers from other colleges at the Lake Washington Rowing Club. They won the Pan American Games in 1959 then went off to Rome. With 500 meters to go in their Olympic race, their team was 500 meters behind the Russian team but Rusty, like his teammates, ……… “was a rower who never gave up”. The team caught and passed the Russian team at the finish line.
After college, Rusty, Lynne, and John Sayre joined Up With People, a worldwide secular organization that used musical performances to promote peace and goodwill. After Up With People, he became dean of students at Mackinac College in Michigan then later finished his professional career with PACCAR as a manager in the company’s Kenworth Truck division. He retired in 1997.
In October 2002, Rusty, who lived in Woodinville, died of a heart attack while rowing with friends on Lake Washington.