A ‘father’ of Columbiana passes away

By CHRISTINE BOATWRIGHT / Staff Writer

COLUMBIANA – Longtime Columbiana resident and former publisher of the Shelby County Reporter Wayne Rasco passed away Monday, Dec. 19.

While Rasco and his family were on vacation in Gatlinburg, Tenn., he elected to stay in the rental cabin while his family went out for the morning on Dec. 19. When the family returned around lunchtime, he had passed away.

“Basically, his heart gave out,” daughter Amanda Rasco Gunn said. “They (paramedics) said when it happens, it happens quickly.

“He was sleeping and everything was good,” she added. “He went to the heart doctor on Wednesday (Dec. 14), and the doctor said, ‘You’re good; come back in six months.’ It was just something that could happen to anybody.”

Rasco

Rasco was born on Dec. 7, 1941, or Pearl Harbor Day, and recently had celebrated his 70th birthday.

“Wayne has been a father of the city for many, many years,” Columbiana Mayor Allan Lowe said. “He and his brothers, they’ve been known for hosting horse shows and other benefits and fundraisers for the children of our city.

“If you saw Wayne come to your business, one, it was for a good cause, and two, you knew you were going to write him a check because he was that passionate about making you see how good his cause was,” he added.

Alabama Rep. Mike Hill, R-Columbiana, and his wife, Carol, have lived close to the Rasco and his wife, Darlene, for many years.

According to Hill, Rasco worked for the Shelby County Reporter for 20 to 25 years. When Hill was young, he would watch Rasco set type for the newspaper. Later, Rasco worked as a salesperson for the paper before becoming the publisher.

“Wayne was always a very close friend,” Hill said. “I first got to know him when he was my scoutmaster. He used to take me to Auburn football games.

“We always stayed close and lived next door to each other for many, many years,” Hill said. “If you had a project to undertake, he was the person you’d call to get it done.”

Hill said Rasco would spend time at Davis Drugstore or the golf course entertaining people with jokes or stories about Auburn, as Rasco was a “pretty obnoxious Auburn fan,” Hill said.

“I called him a blue-collar civic leader,” Hill said. “He wasn’t one to run for office or on the city council, but if someone needed something done, they would call on him to take over and get it accomplished. He was always one of those civic-minded people who you could always count on.”

Funeral services will be 2 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 22, 2011 at First Baptist Church of Columbiana with Rev. Wes Gunn officiating. Burial will follow at Columbiana City Cemetery. Visitation will be from noon-2 p.m. prior to the service.

According to his obituary, Rasco is preceded in death by his parents, Guzma and Eunice Davis Rasco; brother, Welby Rasco, and sister, Venida Smith.  He is survived by his wife, Darlene Rasco; children, Amanda  Gunn (Wes) and James Rasco; grandchildren, Taylor and Lilly Gunn; brothers, Douglas  Rasco (Jean) and William Rasco (Ann); sister-in-law, Jean Rasco; brother-in-law, Jim Hicks (Jane); and many nieces, nephews and other family and friends.