Rush Hudson Limbaugh III was born in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, the son of Mildred Carolyn “Millie” (née Armstrong) and Rush Hudson Limbaugh, Jr. His father was a lawyer and a U.S. fighter pilot who served in the China Burma India Theater of World War II. His mother was a native of Searcy, Arkansas. The name “Rush” was originally chosen for his grandfather to honor the maiden name of family member Edna Rush.
His family has many lawyers, including his grandfather, father and brother David. His uncle, Stephen N. Limbaugh, Sr. is a federal judge in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri. His cousin, Stephen N. Limbaugh, Jr., is currently a judge in the same court, appointed by George W. Bush. Rush Limbaugh, Sr., Limbaugh’s grandfather was a Missouri prosecutor, judge, special commissioner, member of the Missouri House of Representatives from 1930 until 1932, and longtime president of the Missouri Historical Society. The Federal Courthouse in Cape Girardeau is named for Limbaugh’s grandfather, Rush Limbaugh, Sr..
Limbaugh began his career in radio as a teenager in 1967 in his hometown of Cape Girardeau, using the name Rusty Sharpe. Limbaugh graduated from Cape Girardeau, Missouri Central High School, in 1969; where he played football. Because of his parents’ desire to see him attend college, he enrolled in Southeast Missouri State University but left the school after two semesters and one summer. According to his mother, “he flunked everything”, and “he just didn’t seem interested in anything except radio.”
Limbaugh’s biographer states that a large part of his life has been dedicated to gaining his father’s respect and approval.