David C. Rutford

David C. Rutford, Duluth, passed away October 19, 2020, at age 89. The last five days of his life were spent in home hospice, where he was surrounded by his family.Born May 1, 1931, in Duluth, David spent his childhood years in Duluth and St. Paul, and many summers camping on the North Shore of Lake Superior near Grand Marais. He  graduated from Murray High School, St. Paul, and the University of Minnesota with degrees in philosophy and engineering. After serving in the U.S. Army from 1955-1957, he returned from Korea to marry his sweetheart, Faith Whitfield Rutford; they raised four children in Duluth.David’s career as a civil engineer spanned decades and included work at the St. Louis County Health Department, Ruble & Kaple engineers, and ultimately, a partnership in the RREM, Inc., engineering firm in Duluth, where his focus was water and wastewater projects. As a member of the Duluth Rotary club, David traveled to Peru several times to assist in building clinics and water wells in the Amazon. Other service trips with Rotary and other organizations had him traveling to Bolivia, Ghana, and Guatemala. Over his lifetime, David’s interests and hobbies were vast and mostly involved building and repairing things: cars, guns, sewing machines, motorcycles, computers, boats, and pipe organs. In 1955, he and two friends built a 15×30-foot raft out of logs and barrels and parts salvaged from an old barge, powered it with a Chevy car set on top, and spent a month rafting down the Mississippi River from St. Paul to New Orleans. In the 1970s, when his wife learned to play the pipe organ, David learned how to build them. His family remembers road trips to Mississippi, New York, and other destinations to bring loads of pipes and wind chests back to Duluth, where David would piece them together in area churches, as well as one he built in their home so Faith could practice. When his interest in boating was sparked, he bought several boats (to repair) and became an active member the Duluth Power Squadron. He took family and friends on many boating trips to Isle Royale, the Apostle Islands, and farther flung reaches of the Great Lakes. David enjoyed fishing and hunting, mainly for the time it gave him on the water or in the woods. After retirement, he enrolled in the University for Seniors program at the University of Minnesota-Duluth, taking a full load of classes every session and completing all the assigned homework (many, many hours of reading). He also renewed his interest in motorcycles, not only buying ones in need of repair, but also taking some spectacular, cross-country trips, his most recent (at age 83), a 5,000-mile trek to the West Coast on a Virago 750, accompanied by his son and grandson. His travels took him many places, often trips with his children and grandchildren: England, Iceland, Ireland, France, Spain, New England and the Maritime Provinces, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, and more. Late in his life, his joy came from being with family and watching the lives of his grandchildren and great grandchildren unfold. David is preceded in death by his parents, Ruth Hoxie Rutford and Skuli Hrutfjord Rutford; his siblings John (Donna) Rutford, Mary (Eugene) Covert, Robert (Margie) Rutford; and his wife Faith Whitfield Rutford. He is survived by a brother, Ken Rutford Sr.; his children David J. (Rhonda) Rutford, Yvonne (Marty) Rutford, Tom (Sue) Rutford, and Julie (Dan) Zobel; grandchildren Andy (Bianca) Nissen, Alison (Nic) Fischer, Aaron (Nicole) Rutford, Emily (Oliver) Neumann, Jessica Zobel, Evan (Hayley) Rutford, and Nick Zobel; and great grandchildren Brianna, Maisie, Elliott, Greyson, Maxwell, Malaya, Everleigh, Annie, Mira, and three on the way whom he was so hoping to get to meet. He will be remembered for his storytelling and letter-writing and cherished for instilling in his descendants strong family bonds and a rootedness to place, particularly Lake Superior’s North Shore, where so many of his stories unfolded. He is deeply missed. A memorial service/celebration of the life of David C. Rutford will be held at a later date, when family and friends can safely gather.


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