Esther Rushford Greene, Former CalChamber Director of Political Affairs

Esther Rushford Greene, former director of political affairs for the California Chamber of Commerce, passed away on February 19 in her Sacramento home. She was 98 years old.

Already experienced in political campaigns when she joined the CalChamber to direct its political activities in August 1975, Greene quickly made the CalChamber political affairs department a center for information on the political process and campaigns on important business issues.

Before leaving the CalChamber in August 1983, Greene was instrumental in organizing the California Business Political Action Committee (CalBusPAC) in 1976. She later edited a handbook on how to form a PAC and served as CalBusPAC administrator.

She also started a Chamber General Election Guidebook, a concise summary of information on candidates up and down the state.

As special assistant to former CalChamber President John T. Hay, Greene coordinated activities ranging from the quarterly meetings of the CalChamber Board of Directors to receptions for legislators and other government officials.

Over the years, she set up corporate programs for educating employees on politics, political action and the free enterprise system. She also monitored actions of the Fair Political Practices Commission and tracked legislation dealing with reapportionment, public campaign financing and elections.

Greene was born in Bakersfield, California on December 31, 1925, the daughter of Fred Heath Leonard and Florence Leonard. One of nine siblings, she grew up in Los Angeles, where she attended Los Angeles public schools and was a journalism major at the University of Southern California.

Following her marriage to A. J. (Jim) Rushford, Greene moved to Sacramento. She and Jim Rushford divorced in 1970. She married Charles Edwin Greene (recently retired as chief sergeant-at-arms for the California State Assembly), whom she described as the love of her life, on October 18, 1975.

While a young stay-at-home mom, Green was active in her children’s activities and other community groups. During the 1960s, she managed the A. J. Rushford Company. In 1969, she served as convention and special projects director for the Republican State Central Committee, going on to serve as executive director for the Republican National Convention in San Diego (1972), executive director of the Sacramento County Committee to Reelect the President (Nixon) in 1972, and political consultant with the Lyn Nofziger Company (1973–July 1975), where her work included the campaigns of candidates for U.S. Congress, U.S. Senate and the state’s Lieutenant Governor.

Following her time with CalChamber, Greene served as chief deputy director of the California Employment Development Department and as The Republican National Committee Woman (1984–1988).

Greene is survived by her children, James W. Rushford and Michael D. Rushford, both of Sacramento; Florence Catherine Hintz of Ventura; Daniel L. Rushford of Georgetown, California; stepson Dr. Ronald B. Rushford of Vacaville; stepdaughter Debbie Calhoon of Texas; seven grandchildren and 10 great grandchildren.