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Thu, Dec. 05

Julie Ann’s Bakery heirs honor their parents by helping the chefs of tomorrow

Russ Rusing is the gentleman in the back of the group by the bakery counter. (Yavapai College/Courtesy)

Russ Rusing is the gentleman in the back of the group by the bakery counter. (Yavapai College/Courtesy)

Editor’s Note — Each quarter, The Daily Courier profiles those helping the Yavapai College Foundation keep higher education accessible in our community. Today, we meet the Rusing family, founders of the Russ and Rosemary Rusing/Julie Ann’s Bakery Culinary Scholarship.

Optimism and a can-do spirit characterized every facet of Russ Rusing’s life — especially Julie Ann’s Bakery, the iconic Prescott landmark he and his wife, Rosemary, opened in 1961.

“It was a very busy place and very upbeat,” their son Dan recalled.

With its trademark dunkers and butter-crust bread, Julie Ann’s captured the heart — and stomach — of Prescott for a generation. Russ died in 2015. Rosemary is now 98. Last year, with the help of the Yavapai College Foundation, the Rusing children — Tom, Dan, Mick, Randy and bakery namesake Julie Ann — found a way to honor their parents, help their community, and encourage the next generation of bakers.

COOKING UP A LEGACY

With two teaching kitchens, eight workstations, and state-of-the-art ovens and grills, Yavapai College’s Sedona Culinary Institute seems a far cry from Julie Ann’s. But both places featured culinary excellence; both understood the role food and fellowship play in a community. And now, with the Russ and Rosemary Rusing/Julie Ann’s Bakery Culinary Scholarship, both places are part of a local baking tradition.

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Julie Ann’s Bakery pictured in the 1960s. (Yavapai College/Courtesy)

“Russ believed that our educational system should prepare people, especially young people, for the workplace and the needs of the community,” Dan Rusing said. “He would be proud that YC Culinary Arts is serving that purpose.”

The Rusing children grew up with the early hours and rigorous work ethic of a baker’s home. Russ ran the shop; Rosemary did the books and raised the children. “The bakery was a big part of our family life,” Tom recalled. But the Rusings encouraged their kids to make their own mark. “They didn’t push any of us into following in their footsteps, because baking was a hard life.”

Tom became a surgeon. Dan became a CPA, then Yavapai County Finance Director. Randy went into construction; Mick became a lawyer and Julie Ann became a bookkeeper and property manager. Russ and Rosemary had left an impressive legacy. They helped establish the Prescott Community Cupboard and Russ helped found Prescott Charities, and won several prestigious philanthropic awards. But their children wanted to honor the Rusing’s passion for baking, and the little business that started it all.

PASSING THE SPATULA

Last winter, Chef Robert Barr hosted the Rusings on a tour of the Sedona Culinary Institute. The highlight was meeting Stefani Case — a Cornville student who became the first recipient of the Rusing/Julie Ann’s Bakery Scholarship.

“[Dad] encouraged us all to go to college, which we all did, and have successful careers,” Tom said. “But there is a feeling of regret that no one carried on the family business. This is way of honoring that way of life.”

For more information on the Russ and Rosemary Rusing/Julie Ann’s Bakery Culinary Scholarship, please visit: www.yc.edu/foundation.

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