David Leroy Rutherford

David Leroy Rutherford, Leavenworth, Kansas, passed Jan. 10, 2021, at the Medicalodges in Leavenworth, Kansas. He was 84 years old. Dave was borne to Thomas and Haldine Rutherford on Jan. 1, 1937, in South Gate, California.  

Dave grew up with his older sister, Margery, and his younger brother, John. Dave’s relationship with his family was tumultuous, and he was eager to leave home at the first opportunity. In July 1956, after a brief stint as a full-time college student, Dave found the opportunity to strike out on his own with the United States Air Force. 

In September 1960 in Boise, Idaho, having left his family, and having found success as an officer and a pilot in the USAF, Dave met, courted and married Hellen Ann Walhof.  

Like his father before him, Dave studied engineering before graduating from Officer Candidate School in the Air Force, and subsequently studied numerous other topics to include Air Force pilot and advanced pilot training, eventually mastering the myriad skills and qualifications required to pilot multi-engine jet aircraft.   

During his time in the Air Force, David flew several aircraft to include the venerable B-52 bomber while serving in the Strategic Air Command. Dave attained the rank of captain and was a senior pilot and aircraft commander. In October 1962, during the Cuban Missile Crises, Dave and his crew were placed on high alert status, spending most of those 13 days in their aircraft, either flying between air bases or simply waiting on the flight line, engines running, ready to take off at a moment’s notice.

In December 1966, Dave left the Air Force, and three months later began flying for American Airlines. He would continue to fly for American Airlines until his retirement. After his retirement, he was the co-owner of Precision Contact Wheel, a small company focused on producing customized automated packing machines, belt driven systems and related sub-assemblies. 

During his time as a pilot in the Air Force, Dave and Helen lived in Idaho, Texas and Guam. With American Airlines, Dave and Helen lived in New York and San Diego. San Diego would become Dave’s home for the next 40 years. Later in life, the two moved to Leavenworth, Kansas, where they both lived out their remaining years. 

Dave enjoyed a lifelong interest in electronics, engineering, machining, automotive mechanics and private aviation. 

In the mid to late 70s, Dave was an active member of the San Diego Kiwanis Club. He was also an active adult leader in the San Diego Boy Scouts of America. 

Dave is survived by his two sons, Eric and Michael. Eric and his wife, Theresa, live in Yakima, Washington. Dave’s son, Michael, and his wife, Susanne, live in Farley, Missouri. Dave has five grandchildren, Eric’s two daughters, Kate and Meg, who live in Fayetteville, North Carolina, and Boston, Massachusetts, respectively, Michael’s three children, his daughter, Kassy, his son, Philip, and his daughter, Helen, who live in Kansas City, Kansas, Farley, Missouri, and 29 Palms, California, respectively.  

Dave’s younger brother, John, currently resides in Los Angeles, California. 

A single service for both David and Helen will be held at a place yet to be determined in the months ahead. 

Arrangements are entrusted to Davis Funeral Chapel. 

Posted online on January 22, 2021