Gene Richard Rutherford
Gene Richard Rutherford
  • October 24, 1928 - September 17, 2015
  • California

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October 24, 1928 - September 17, 2015
Born in Kansas on October 24, 1928 to Earnest and Alta Rutherford, Gene passed away on September 17, 2015 at home in Bakersfield with his wife and children by his bedside. Gene lost his mother at an early age and spent his childhood in rural Kansas, where his father traveled as a school teacher in one-room schoolhouses. In 1940, father and son relocated to California to seek employment in steel factories. Gene enlisted in the Navy at 17 years old after his father passed away, completing his service in 1949. Returning to California with his best buddy, Glen Stout, they embarked on brief, but illustrious, careers as jalopy racers until they met two cute South Gate High School sisters who civilized them and put a stop to their death-defying ways. Gene married Bonita Mae Pembrook in 1952, purchased a home in Norwalk, and became a machinist in the booming aerospace industry. As their family grew, Gene promoted through the ranks, ultimately retiring as the President of Tolo, Inc., a defense and aerospace contractor in Irvine, California. A failure at retirement, Gene accepted employment at Northrup for five years in Palmdale and retired again at age 68. Bored at age 71, he went to work for the 2000 U.S. Census, where he used a computer for the first time. As evidence of his determination and fierce intelligence, at 81 years old, Gene was a supervisor in Kern County for the 2010 Census, providing on-line training and technical support for census workers throughout the region.
Gene is survived by his wife, Barbara, daughter, Karen Ramirez, and son and daughter-in-law, Gary and Lynda Rutherford, along with grandchildren Lyndsy (Christian) Rodgers, Matthew Ramirez, Taylor Ramirez, Bryanne Rutherford, and Kyle Ramirez. Gene also delighted in his great-grandsons Brody Rutherford and Solomon Rodgers. He was preceded in death by his first wife, Bonita Rutherford, a son, Stephen Earnest, and a daughter, Terry Marie.
With his second marriage to Barbara (Westerfeld) Rutherford, Gene's family grew to include her children, David (Sue) Westerfeld and Tammy (Bill) Reynolds of Bakersfield. He was also "Grandpa Gene" to Eric (Tara) Westerfeld, Travis (Lauren) Westerfeld, Nate Westerfeld, Jason Westerfeld, Chase Reynolds, Summer (Bryan) Reynolds-Turnbow, Tyler (Terri) Reynolds, Kara Reynolds, Parker Reynolds, and Alex Reynolds, as well as great-grandpa to Kieren and Maleah Reynolds, Noah Turnbow, and Taylor and Maisie Westerfeld.
There will be an empty seat on Friday mornings at Pappy's Coffee Shop where Gene enjoyed his weekly breakfast with his Bakersfield buddies. He also leaves behind his loyal dog and constant companion, Bailey, who entertained him, kept his feet warm, and watched over him faithfully until he was safely home in the arms of his Heavenly Father.
Gene will be laid to rest with military honors at Bakersfield National Cemetery on Monday, October 5 at 10:00 a.m. For condolences or information regarding services, please visit In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be made to the American Cancer Society in memory of Gene Rutherford at