Rusty Paul, the son of the musical icon Les Paul, didn't grow up or live in Waukesha, but the city, nonetheless, held a special place in his heart.
'He always enjoyed coming to Waukesha,' said Sue Baker of Waukesha, program director of the Les Paul Foundation, who was friends with Rusty from the time she met his father in the late 1990s. 'He always said 'Waukesha was important to my dad, so the city is important to me.''
Rusty Paul died Dec. 31 from complications associated with diabetes. He was 74.
Growing up in a musical environment, Rusty Paul was always by his father's side and shared his passion for the business.
'I grew up in it,' Rusty Paul told Waukesha NOW during a dedication ceremony at his father's gravesite at Prairie Home Cemetery in 2011. 'I was playing with the (Bing) Crosby kids in the backyard and I'm deep in (the music business).'
Rusty's father, born and buried in Waukesha, was a famous guitarist, songwriter, inventor and pioneer in the music industry. Les Paul, whose life is documented in an exhibit at the Waukesha County Museum, is credited with creating the first electric guitar.
Rusty Paul, who was born in Chicago and also lived in California before moving to the East Coast, was an experienced sound engineer and lived and worked with his father in New Jersey in a home that also served as a production facility, Baker said.
Rusty Paul could often be seen videotaping his father's performances at the Iridium in New York City, Baker said.
He also led the Rusty Paul Band, which played regularly in New Jersey.
Memorializing his father
After Les Paul died in 2009 at age 94, Rusty Paul was a strong advocate for his dad and promoted all that he accomplished, Baker said.
'He thought the world of his dad,' said Baker. 'He did everything to continue his dad's legacy.'
On its website following the passing of Rusty Paul, the Les Paul foundation said: 'During his life he worked hard to keep his father's legacy alive often being interviewed about the late inventor and representing his father's memory at various events.'
Rusty Paul was in Waukesha during the city's GuitarTown festivities in 2012 and spoke to people who came by his father's gravesite at Prairie Home Cemetery, Baker said.
Rusty Paul's grandfather and uncle also were the founders of Club 400 in Waukesha. Baker also said that Les Paul would often have Rusty Paul receive awards on his behalf.
'Les always had Rusty go and receive them,' Baker said. 'Rusty loved doing it.'
Baker said it was touching to hear Rusty Paul speak so passionately at Les Paul's funeral.
'I really enjoyed seeing him talk about his dad,' Baker said. 'He really had so much love for him, and he really enjoyed being in Club 400, too, whenever he was in Waukesha.'
Rusty Paul told Waukesha NOW at Les Paul's gravesite four years ago he appreciated the support the Waukesha community has given to his dad. The massive monument at Les Paul's gravesite lists all of Les Paul's accomplishments and tells his life story.
'I want to thank everybody for what they've done for Dad because it's so important,' Rusty Paul said. 'He's got a bunch of close, great friends and it sure shows when you look (at the monument) and see something I never expected.
'He's a special person that hit a lot of hearts. He is someone we sure miss and I'm one of them that miss the hell out of him. He left a good mark on the world that's for sure.'
Rusty Paul is survived by his children Stephen, Gary and Beth Anne, his former wife, Glori, and seven grandchildren.