Rusty was a member of a pioneering Refugio County, Texas family, the Plummers. He was born on the Oâ€™Connor Melon Creek Ranch during a severe drought. Nettie Dunman, one of the old slaves, was the midwife. His family moved to town when he was seven years old, but his father, Ed Coward, died a few years later. Both his father and uncle, Jim Coward, were ranch foremen at the Melon. After high school graduation Rusty worked many different jobs; oil fields, drugstores, bakerâ€™s shops, and filling stations, but always ended up back at the ranch. He started working on the Melon when he was twenty-one years old, operating one of the first bulldozers. He stayed at the Melon for over fifty years. Having come from a long line of ranching people, Rusty was an invaluable source of information on cowhands and their ways. He was a wealth of information on how to work a ranch crew. He greatly respected his men and would often laugh heartily at their attempts to outwit himâ€”one of the great games cowhands played with foremen.