Mary Dolores Rutherford passed away peacefully at The Brook of Portland on March 6, 2023, at the age of 96. The seventh of nine children of William and Ethel (Laundra) Markey, she was born on December 16, 1926, in Saginaw, Michigan. Dolores grew up on a farm in Kochville Township in a multi-generational home, where she developed a strong work ethic, competitive spirit, and dedication to tasks, along with many other skills that would serve her well throughout her life. During her elementary years in a one room school, she made friends with classmate Robert Rutherford, and that friendship would gradually evolve into love and marriage. In 1944 Dolores graduated from Arthur Hill High School, where she had excelled in math and accounting.
Dolores and Bob married on September 14, 1946, and built their own humble home that was to see many additions and renovations as they contributed nine children to the Baby Boom spanning the years 1947-1964. Dolores devoted her life to the welfare of her family and others. She was a den mother, little league coach, softball coach, PTA officer at all levels, community and church volunteer, catechist, lover of whatever stray dog or cat that seemed to follow her kids home from school. She baked bread, cooked, sewed her children’s clothing, kept a clean house, gardened and preserved the harvest, ironed clothes, taught her kids how to pray, and sang and read to them, chauffeured them to endless appointments and sports and school events. She never knew which of her teen kids’ friends would show up for Sunday dinner, but every week it was sure to be somebody, and she always made room at her table with enough food to share. She was an expert at saving money, cutting corners, stretching the budget, creating something out of nothing. Nobody did that better than she did.
After moving to North Dakota in 1974, Dolores became a successful businesswoman as owner and operator of two drive-in restaurants. She also joined Bob at pitching horseshoes and began competing in several World Championships.
Back in Michigan, she and Bob lived in Stockbridge, where she was an active member of the Lionesses. In 2000 they moved to Portland. She enjoyed participating at the Senior Center and loved her prayer shawl ministry and weekly mah jongg gatherings. Dolores also enjoyed board games and cards, dominoes, Bingo, and puzzles of all kinds. You could always count on her to play to win. She and Bob enjoyed traveling in retirement until Bob’s health began to fail. She cared for her husband throughout his illness, and following his death in 2004, continued to honor his memory by committing to live her life as fully as possible. She enjoyed winters with family in Louisiana, California, Florida and Minnesota. Her Catholic faith was of great importance to her and remained a stronghold in times of joy and sorrow.
Her family filled her life with love, happiness, and fulfillment. She enjoyed her grandchildren and attended many of their events and the special religious occasions, graduations, showers, and weddings. Dolores could be mischievous, too. She even stepped in line to try to catch the bridal bouquet at her grandson’s wedding reception. She loved Christmas and big family gatherings at her home and held what her oldest grandson called “Grandma’s last annual Thanksgiving” for eight years in a row before finally having to give up hosting 45 people for turkey dinner. Dolores enjoyed creating keepsakes for each member of her family. Every granddaughter has a crocheted tablecloth and every grandson, an afghan. Every member of the family has a personalized Christmas stocking created by Dolores and her famous knitting machine.
Dolores touched so many lives and will be deeply missed by all who love her, including her sons, daughters and spouses: Tim and Theresa Rutherford, Mary and John Skoglund, Jane and Mike Alsgaard, Tom and Cindy Rutherford, Ann Huntington, Terry Cherup, George and Linda Rutherford, Tom Stark, Mary Rose Rutherford, Alice and Shawn Overgaard; 24 grandchildren, 18 great-grandchildren; sister Geraldine Dangel, sister-in-law Pauline Duby; Doreen Miller and Julio Rodriquez, whom she and Bob welcomed into their home as theirs; and many nieces and nephews and friends.
Preceding her in death were her husband Robert, son Matthew Rutherford, daughter Margaret Stark, son-in-law Kim Huntington, granddaughter Katie Stark, siblings Robert, James, Dorothy, Genevieve, Patricia, Vincent and Ted.
To honor Dolores’s life, family members will greet visitors at Lehman Funeral Home in Portland, Michigan, on Sunday, March 12, from 2-4 PM, and on Monday, March 13, from 4-8 pm. Her funeral liturgy is scheduled for Tuesday, March 14 at 11:00 AM at St. Patrick Catholic Church, Portland, with luncheon immediately following at the Wagon Wheel Restaurant. Those unable to attend the funeral may view the livestream on Lehman Funeral Homes Facebook page beginning at 11:00 AM. Dolores will be laid to rest at a later date next to her beloved husband Bob at St. Andrew Cemetery in Saginaw. Memorials honoring Dolores may be given to a charity of one’s choice. Online condolences may be made at www.lehmanfuneralhomes.com.
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