Above photo by Liam Norris
3090 RUTHERFORD, RICHARD JOSEPH “DICK” May 1, 1931 – April 17, 2019 (RMC 1954)
“For I have promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep.”
On April 17, 2019, our father slipped the surly bonds of earth to join his cherished Marcie. Our grief is tempered by the memories we have of him and the wonderful life he made for himself and for us. Dad was born May 1, 1931 in Peterborough, Ontario, to John (Jack) Rutherford and Esther Lillian Kelly. He delighted in his simple, free-range childhood in small-town Ontario. The only serious challenge was a battle with polio, which included a long hospital stay and intense physical therapy. As the middle child of five, Dick revered his older siblings John and Jean and endlessly teased his younger sisters Mary and Betty. The young children were best friends and playmates through the years marked by the depression and the war. They shared a commitment to education, faith, hard work and strong family bonds and remained close, loving and supportive throughout their entire lives. Dad’s days were spent in a secure round of school, chores (cleaning ashes out of the coal furnace) and Mass each Sunday and Holy Day. Idyllic summers were spent with his cousins enjoying the cottage on Chemong Lake which set the stage for his lifelong love affair with lakes, boating and summer homes. In 1950, when he turned 19, Dad was ready to explore a world wider than Peterborough. He enrolled in the Mechanical Engineering program at Royal Military College in Kingston. Dad (Cadet 3090) loved RMC and his years of marching, camaraderie and flying were among the most memorable of his life. His graduation photo shows him receiving his pilot’s wings, proud and confident. Graduating as a professional in the booming 1950’s meant Dad had abundant job offers. He chose Shell Oil and Marcie and he settled in North Bay where the first two of their children were born. Dad enjoyed his duties as a Sales Manager of service stations throughout northern Ontario, enthusiastically donning coveralls and pitching in to help when doing the rounds of his stations. But soon Toronto beckoned and the young family packed up their ’53 Buick and headed south on Highway 11 to Toronto where three more children arrived. Dad loved having a big family and soon built us a comfortable home on a Willowdale ravine. He could turn his hand to anything and our bedrooms were furnished with his lovingly hand-made furniture. Our summers were filled with swimming and cottaging, our winters with skiing and other winter sports. In 1971, Dad set out on his own and founded Rutherford Contracting Services with a couple of used pickups and lots of moxie. Dick and his employees worked tirelessly for twenty years to establish the successful business that would become one of his legacies. Dad was blessed with both boundless energy and vision and tackled a diverse variety of projects. He savored all of the time spent north of Toronto in cottage country. He was a tireless boat driver when it came to taking his children and nieces and nephews waterskiing at the extended-family cottage on Pigeon Lake in the Kawarthas and later his grandchildren at the cottage he built on Lake Joseph in Muskoka. He also took great pleasure in sailing his Hobie Cat, skiing and snowmobiling. Each winter there were trips with family or friends to ski in Colorado. In the 1980’s, Dad was able to mix business with pleasure, developing properties and building cottages in Muskoka. As they reached their late seventies, Mom and Dad graciously accepted the limitations their advancing age imposed and retired to a lovely condo in Aurora where they could be closer to their daughters. They spent their remaining years laughing and reminiscing over their life together. When Mom passed away in December of 2018, Dad lost his soulmate of more than 60 years. We were saddened, but not surprised, that his passing swiftly followed Mom’s. We take comfort in the fact that they are together again. Dad will be forever missed by his children Nancy, Patty Rantz, Mark (Elisabetta), Christine, Scott (Gabe) and by his ten grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. He is survived by his loving sisters Jean Murphy, Mary Jones and Betty McPherson and his devoted siblings-in-law Sherry MacEachern, Donald MacEachern and Maureen Rutherford. “Uncle Dick” will be fondly remembered by his countless nieces and nephews. He will also be missed by many friends and colleagues. Dad, whenever we see a southwestern sunset, or watch the wind and sun turn a lake to diamonds, or hear the call of a loon at twilight, we will think of you and know that you are near. You can sleep now; you have travelled every mile and kept every promise. We ask that our friends and family join us on Saturday, June 8th at 2 p.m. at Trillium Stables, 3437 Aurora Road, Stouffville, to celebrate our unforgettable father.
Published in the Toronto Star on May 18, 2019