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Donald "Rusty" Murdock Rustad

September 14, 1932 - February 11, 2019

Don "Rusty" Murdock Rustad, renowned jazz saxophone player, passed away at age 86 on February 11, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada. <br /> <br /> Rusty was born to parents Carl and Marcille Rustad, on September 14, 1932 in Fargo, North Dakota. <br /> <br /> He attended South St. Paul Senior High School and sang tenor in the H.S. choir for 4 years. He also played saxophone in the H.S. band. Rusty played Varsity H.S. Hockey for 2 years and was the Goalie for South St. Paul H.S., when they won the Regional Championship; and went on to play in the Minnesota Boys State Hockey Tournament in 1950. Rusty graduated H.S. in 1950 and went on to study music and play football at Hamline University, where he was a member of the Theta Chi Fraternity. He left college to join the Marine Corps. <br /> <br /> Rusty worked as a musician and band leader for more than 65 years. As a self-employed touring musician, Rusty played with a variety of talented artists during his career, to include The Augie Garcia Rock-n-Roll Band; Prince Rogers; Twin Cities Jazz Matriarch & Patriarch, Jeanne Arland Peterson & Willie Peterson; Billy Peterson; The Promises; Ralph Pollak & The Precisionaires; Zafra; Bob Gilbertson & The Riverboat Ramblers; Stellar Unit; Joey English; and Marlena Shaw. <br /> <br /> In addition to the Twin Cities in Minnesota, Rusty lived and worked in several interesting places around the world to include Japan; American Samoa; Maui, Hawaii; and Las Vegas, Nevada. During his 35 years in Las Vegas, he played for many of the top headliners and featured shows on the Strip. His favorite gig was a 25 year run as comedian, Rodney Dangerfield's Band Leader. Rodney included Rusty in his act and nick-named him, "Styles Bitchly!" Rusty also loved his time living and performing in American Samoa at 'Evalani's Cabaret Lounge,' as well as on the Norwegian Cruise Line Ships. <br /> <br /> He appreciated all music, but especially jazz; and loved to entertain people. His interests included hockey, horses, fishing and spending time with his family & friends. He enjoyed attending his daughter's swimming and horse competitions; his son's little league games; his granddaughter's dance recitals; and his grandson's wrestling meets. <br /> <br /> He was proud to be a Marine and served honorably from 1951-1954, rising to the rank of Staff Sergeant. He received the National Defense Medal, Korean Service Medal, United Nations Service Medal and Good Conduct Medal. Rusty served as a Bandsman, playing saxophone and piccolo in the Marine Corps Band. <br /> <br /> In 1956, Rusty and his band mates in Augie Garcia's Rock-n-Roll Band were thrilled to be selected as the opening act for the main attraction, Elvis Presley. According to Rusty, the band had a popular, but very brief appearance at Elvis Presley's first concert in the Twin cities and had the rare distinction of being asked to leave the stage after performing only 2 songs. Apparently, Colonel Tom Parker, Elvis Presley's manager, thought they were upstaging Elvis. As a result, the band was not allowed to finish their set and were told that they would not be the "warm-up act" for Elvis Presley again. The story was recounted in an article written by Linda James and published by the Minnesota Historical Society. <br /> <br /> "It was Sunday, May 13, 1956, and Elvis Presley had come to town. He played two concerts on the same day, at the St. Paul Auditorium at 3 pm, followed by an 8 pm show at the Minneapolis Auditorium. Tickets went for $1.50, $2.00, and $2.50. An ad for the concerts promised not only Elvis, but singers, dancers, and comedians. A popular local rock n' roll group fronted by Augie Garcia opened for Elvis but was pulled off the stage after two songs, Garcia later said, because they were upstaging Elvis. No subsequent coverage mentioned any singer other than Elvis. The dancers and comedians were similarly slighted." Rusty recalled that the band considered Colonel Parker's decision to pull them off the stage to be a compliment and they remained fans of Elvis Presley! <br /> <br /> Rusty was honored to be included in the Minnesota Historical Society's Exhibit on the History of Minnesota Music, as well as the Augie Garcia Collection online, along with his fellow musicians and band mates in The Augie Garcia Rock-n-Roll Band. In 2015, he was delighted to be represented in the musical, 'River Road Boogie, the Augie Garcia Story' that was presented at the History Theatre, in St. Paul, May 2-31, 2015. Rusty's character in the musical was portrayed by cast member, Benjamin D. Wagner. Rusty enjoyed the musical as well as Mr. Wagner's portrayal of him. In addition, Rusty was able to attend several of the performances and participate in the "Buddies and Bandmates" post-show talk after the Sunday matinee performance on May 31, 2015. <br /> <br /> He was preceded in death by parents, Carl & Marcille Rustad; and brother, Jack Rustad. <br /> <br /> Rusty will be dearly missed and is remembered with love by his ex-wife, Elayne "Bubbles" Flynn of St. Paul, MN; daughter, Dana Langseth (Jon) of Maui, HI; daughter, Shannon Rustad of Las Vegas, NV; son, Guy Rustad (Lynette) of Burnsville, MN; hanai-daughter, Lisa Barrett (Rob Merkx) of Arnhem, The Netherlands; 8 grandchildren, Stephanie, Heidi Jo, Jonny, Jessica, Vanessa, Meghan, Matthew & Savannah; and 13 great-grandchildren. Rusty is also survived by his sister, Marianne Froelke, whose husband Jim is deceased; and sister, Cheryln Blackford; 5 nephews; 1 niece; and many cousins. <br /> <br /> Rusty was a kind and gentle person with a playful personality and a sweet soul who always carried a song in his heart. He was a talented entertainer, superb saxophone player, great dancer, loyal & cherished friend and a much beloved father and family member. Rusty had good friends from around the world and all are treasured. <br /> <br /> Aloha 'Oe (Farewell To Thee), Daddio! We love you! <br /> <br /> The family would like to thank the staff of Canyon Vista Post-Acute, Las Vegas, NV, for the compassionate, kind and professional care they gave Rusty and his family. <br /> <br /> Remembering Rusty: A Gathering for Family & Friends, Tuesday, July 2, 2019, 4 - 7pm, at Vieux Carré Jazz Club, 408 St Peter St, St Paul, MN 55102. <br /> <br /> Funeral Services are scheduled for Wednesday, July 3, 2019, 10:00am, at Fort Snelling National Cemetery, Assembly Area 5, 7601 34th Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55450. <br /> <br /> In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Disabled American Veterans. To share condolences online, visit Don "Rusty" Rustad's obituary on

Services by
La Paloma Funeral Service

5450 Stephanie Street, Suite #110, Las Vegas, NV


Jul 02
Celebration of life

Tuesday, 4:00 PM -7:00 PM

Vieux Carré Jazz Club

408 St Peter St, St Paul, MN 55102, USA

Get directions


Jul 03
Funeral service

Wednesday, 10:00 AM -10:30 AM

Fort Snelling National Cemetery, Assembly Area 5

7601 34th Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55450, USA

Get directions

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    What a beautiful obituary and what wonderful memories! Rusty was a class act, and had a big, kind heart. He was always so sweet to me, and I know heaven is rockin’ right now. Rusty lived an amazing life. My condolences to my friend, Dana, and all of his family and many, many friends. Rest In Peace, Sweet Man...;)
    Dyan Matczynski-Yarusso Apr 02, 2019
    You were the best Dad in the Universe and I will love you forever! See you on the other side and we will have more fun adventures together!
    XOXOXOXOXOXOXOXO! Mahalo for everything! Aloha Oe! Danioso
    Dana Langseth Apr 01, 2019