Richard Dilworth Rust

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September 4, 1937 – January 29, 2023

Richard Dilworth Rust 1937–2023)

Having lived a rich and meaningful life, Richard Dilworth Rust of Salt Lake City, Utah, age 85, passed away peacefully on January 29, 2023, at Intermountain Medical Center in Murray, Utah.

To the great delight of his parents, Dilworth was born on September 4, 1937, in Provo, Utah, to Alta Estella Cutler Rust and Richard Dexter Rust. Shortly thereafter the family moved to Vernal, Utah, where he grew up with his four younger brothers, David, Joseph, Harold, and Marvin. His father died when Dilworth was 14 years old, so to help his widowed mother he took a part-time job. Dilworth excelled in school and especially enjoyed participating in speech and debate, dramatic productions, and Boys State. He was co-valedictorian for his graduating class of 1955 at Uintah High School.

Following high school graduation, Dilworth attended Brigham Young University where he participated in Intercollegiate Knights and studied Chemistry and then English. He served a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Northern States Mission from 1957 to 1959. Following his missionary service, he returned to BYU where he met Patricia Kathleen Brighton of Tower Lakes, Illinois. They were married March 18, 1960, in the Salt Lake Temple. Daughter Beverly Ann Rust was born a year later. Dilworth completed his undergraduate degree in English in 1961, and then the family moved to Madison, Wisconsin, where he received a master’s degree and Ph.D. in English. Daughter Pamela Rust was born during their time in Wisconsin.

In 1966, the family moved to North Carolina, where Dilworth began his academic career at the University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill. Son David Brighton Rust was born a few years later.

Dilworth spent his entire career at UNC as a professor of English specializing in American Literature. He loved all aspects of his work and excelled as a teacher, impacting many of his students. He quickly progressed in his profession, and eventually was made a full professor. On two different occasions, he took a year’s leave to teach as a Fulbright Professor at the University of Heidelberg, Germany. Later, he spent another year as a visiting exchange professor at the University of Bern, Switzerland. These years were especially defining ones for the family, particularly the years in Germany when all the children were in the home. Dilworth and Pat were determined to help their children appreciate European culture and scenery, so the family traveled all around Europe, visiting museums, castles, palaces, and cathedrals, as well as exploring a diversity of landscapes from fjords to tulip fields to the Alps. All three children suffer from “wanderlust” thanks to those precious years abroad.

Back in Chapel Hill, in addition to his teaching responsibilities, Dilworth was a prolific writer, publishing numerous academic and religious articles. He also served as editor of The Pathfinder by James Fenimore Cooper. Having honed his skills in textual editing, he was appointed as general editor of The Complete Works of Washington Irving. Early on in the digital age, Dilworth saw the potential for utilizing computers for learning, and he created a program for IBM called LitTerms to teach literary terminology. He was also among the first to hold virtual classes when he lived in Georgia for a time while being treated for an illness. Following the year in Switzerland, Dilworth developed a cultural enrichment summer program for Swiss teachers of English. This was the first program of its kind held in the United States. He continued to maintain friendships from those years with some of these Swiss teachers. Drawing on his expertise as a professor of English and his tremendous love for The Book of Mormon, Dilworth explored the literary aspects of that work in his book Feasting on the Word: A Literary Testimony of the Book of Mormon, published by Deseret Book.

Beautifully balancing his career, Dilworth was a devoted husband and father and a faithful, active member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, giving many years of dedicated service in a variety of capacities, including as branch president, bishop, member of the stake presidency, and stake patriarch. He was instrumental in helping establish and preserve the Church building in Chapel Hill. Dilworth and Pat served six full-time missions: Dublin, Ireland; Kirtland, Ohio; Nauvoo, Illinois; Chapel Hill; and, finally, two back-to-back missions in Salt Lake City, where Dilworth worked in the Church History Library. There he prepared the George Q. Cannon journals for online publication.

His family remembers Dilworth as a kind, engaged, supportive father and grandfather. He was always willing to make sacrifices for his children—such as spending countless hours deciphering illegible handwriting and typing up research papers, coaching for weekly vocabulary quizzes during an entire sixth grade year, and attending UNC football games with his son even though Dilworth wasn’t very interested in football. He supported his grown children over the years by babysitting grandchildren for weeks at a time and serving as general handyman on his visits, completing long “to do” lists, and once even taking the catastrophic trial run of a high backyard zipline while in his 70’s. Dilworth made his children and grandchildren feel they were special and loved as he spent one-on-one time to listen to them and validate them. His fathering and concern continued literally to the end of his life. Beverly will always remember him as the enthusiastic President of her fan club. Pamela will always cherish many long talks with him about everything from testimony to relationships. And David will always treasure his model of devoted, caring fatherhood where love was spelled T-I-M-E.

Pat will deeply miss her eternal companion of nearly 63 years. They served together, traveled all over the world together, and were absolutely united in their devotion to family and their faith in Jesus Christ.

Richard Dilworth Rust is predeceased by his parents, and survived by his wife, Patricia Brighton Rust of Salt Lake City, Utah; his daughter, Beverly Rust Snow (Karl Nelson Snow III) of Midway, Utah; his daughter, Pamela Rust Winters (David Adams Winters) of Norcross, Georgia (currently serving as mission leaders in Quito, Ecuador); his son, David Brighton Rust (Tanja Emma Grimm Rust) of Chagrin Falls, Ohio; his brothers, David Walker Rust (Eleanor), Joseph Cutler Rust (Suzanne), Harold Lee Rust (Patricia), and Marvin Thomas Rust (Kay); 14 grandchildren; and 10 great-grandchildren.

A funeral service will be held at 11 am on Saturday, February 4, 2023, at the 14th Ward Chapel of the Salt Lake Stake, 110 Social Hall Avenue, Salt Lake City, Utah. The service will be held in the chapel on the second floor. You may either take the stairs or the elevator. There will be no visitation prior to the service; however, the family will be available for a brief time following the funeral.

Interment will be at the Salt Lake City Cemetery.

Parking and directions: Access Social Hall Avenue from 200 East, between 100 South and South Temple. Parking is available at either entrance of the Eagle Gate parking lot, which is diagonally across the street from the chapel (this will be on your right as you turn onto Social Hall Avenue from 200 East). Please obtain a ticket. A validation code for free parking will be provided at the funeral.

The service will be available via Zoom using the following invitation:

Zoom Meeting Details:
Memorial Service for Richard Rust
When: Feb 4, 2023 11:00 AM Mountain Time (US and Canada) [1 PM Eastern time]
Meeting link:
Join by phone: 719-359-4580

Livestreaming of the service will also be available on Legacy Funerals & Cremations Facebook page at 10:45 am Mountain Time. Additionally, a recording of the service will be available at for several months.

To leave condolences, visit

Spring Creek Mortuary
Spring Creek Mortuary
Whether you'd like a funeral or a more creative celebration of life, we can assist you to select the funeral service options that hold the most meaning for you and your family. We can be your guide and your ally whenever and however much you need us. We are here to support you in making each arrangement decision. Call us at: 385-325-3131.
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