Helen Ann Rutherford, Leavenworth, Kansas, passed Jan. 11, 2021, at Saint John Hospital, Leavenworth, Kansas. She was 81 years old.
Helen was borne to Thomas and Marcella Walhof on April 29, 1939, in Twin Falls, Idaho. She grew up in Boise with her younger brothers, Chuck and John. Helen was strongly influenced by her father’s stern and often asymmetrical perspectives on discipline. As a result, in 1957, when she was 18 years old, Helen moved out of her family’s home.
Helen worked long hours as a clerk in a local drug store. The early years of her independent life were difficult, but in her own words “Far better than anything before!” Soon however, Helen’s life would change radically.
When Helen first saw David Rutherford, the young Air Force officer was leap frogging over parking meters in front of the drug store where she worked. A co-worker’s husband, and good friend of Helen, commented “Look at that damn fool!” Helen did look and shortly thereafter, in September 1960, right there in Boise Idaho, she married him. Many years later, she said of the marriage, “It was one of my better decisions actually.”
Helen did not pursue formal education beyond high school, but she was an avid lifelong learner. She read voraciously, remembering almost everything she read, and traveled within the United States extensively. She lived briefly in Guam, and also visited Canada and Germany.
Helen’s life after marrying David was devoted almost entirely to raising their three children. Aside from her early years working in the drug store, the only work outside the home Helen would engage in regularly was working at the polls in every election, local, state or national, which took place while she lived in San Diego. She observed, “The pay is terrible, but I like the other ladies who do it. We all think it’s important, and we don’t trust anybody else to do it right!”
As the wife of an Air Force pilot, and then a civilian pilot, Helen got used to moving every few years. In the Air Force, she lived in Idaho, Texas and Guam. After Dave joined American Airlines, she moved to New York and then to San Diego. She lived in San Diego for more than 40 years, and she claimed to like living there best. Later in life, Helen and Dave moved to Leavenworth, Kansas, where they both lived out their remaining years.
As mentioned, Helen was an avid reader. Her tastes ran from romance to murder mystery to historical fiction. Helen loved to entertain within her small but intimate social circle. She also enjoyed observing nature both in her garden and while visiting California’s numerous parks and beaches. She also had a special love of cats. Later in life, she enjoyed swimming on a regular basis.
In the late 1960s, Helen was a den mother for the Cub Scouts. As mentioned, her attitude regarding working at the polls was that it was a civic duty. As a result of her father’s strong religious beliefs, Helen regarded formal religion with suspicion and resentment for her entire life, preferring instead the strength of deep personal friendships based on years of shared experiences.
Helen is survived by her two sons, Eric and Michael. Eric and his wife Theresa, live in Yakima, Washington. Helen’s son, Michael, and his wife, Susanne, live in Farley, Missouri. Helen 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.
Helen’s husband, and both of her younger brothers have passed.
A single service for both Helen and Dave will be held at a place yet to be determined at some time in the months ahead. Arrangements are entrusted to Davis Funeral Chapel.
Posted online on January 22, 2021