August 5, 1939 – January 6, 2021
On January 6, 2021, Phil Austin Rutherford stepped into heaven at the age of 81. Phil was born on August 5, 1939, in Harlingen, Texas, to John (Jack) and Tressie (Boots, Calolina) Rutherford. He spent his early years in Waco, Texas, until his family moved to California and ended up in Tulare, California, where Phil met Linda Bonts at Tulare High School. Phil graduated in 1957, and he and Linda were married in 1959. Phil started his career as a welder bluffing his way into fabrication shops where he would learn enough to get the next job when the current employer realized Phil wasn't as skilled as they thought. Phil and Linda welcomed their first children in January 1963, twins Steven and Kevin, six weeks premature, Kevin didn't survive. Their daughter Kathleen was born about two years later; legend has it Phil wanted to name her Henrietta, their son Kirk was born about two years later. Phil continued welding, eventually becoming an independent contractor with a welding truck and worked the oilfields of Southern California. Phil spent his leisure time camping, hunting, and fishing. He owned and rode motorcycles on and off-road; he built a dune buggy and drove it in Pismo beach and out in Arizona's deserts, a hobby he passed onto his son Kirk who still builds and operates high-performance sand rails. Phil was always making or fixing things; he was the consummate DIY'er. He quickly made friends and enjoyed being around people. Phil's passion for fellowship led him to join clubs and organizations, from motorcycle and van clubs to service clubs like the Lions and Shriners. After he retired, he started a Leatherwork business, a skill he picked up in High school. Phil made everything from belts to purses; he enjoyed making holsters and other custom orders. Phil was preceded in death by his parents Jack and Boots, his son Kevin, his sister Wanda, and his wife, Pam. He is survived by his children's mother, Linda Slay, his three kids Steve, Kathy, and Kirk, his younger brother David and sister-in-law Linda and fiancé Bonnie. A celebration of life will be held on February 5, 2021, at 11:00 AM in Bullhead City, AZ, at Diamond and Sons Silver Bell Chapel.