Clyde Eugene Rutherford

August 7, 1938April 17, 2021

Clyde Eugene Rutherford, formerly of Otego, New York passed away peacefully on April 17, 2021 in Monroe Township, New Jersey.

Born at A.O. Fox Hospital, Oneonta, New York on August 7, 1938 he was the son of Alexander T. and Eudora M. (Gesell) Rutherford. He spent his early years in Franklin, New York on the family dairy farm. He attended Delaware Literary Institute in Franklin where he was an active member of the Future Farmers of America and excelled in football, basketball and baseball. He played trumpet in the band and was an “occasional” visitor to the principal’s office especially in the spring, so the Principal didn’t have to watch baseball games alone.

After graduating in 1956, he enlisted in the United States Marine Corps. He said he needed to learn discipline and leadership skills. The lessons he learned in the USMC were the foundation for the rest of his life. He served in the Mediterranean on the USS Olmstead and was involved in Operation Blue Bat in July 1958. While deployed in Lebanon, he was promoted to Corporal. He received several honors including medals as a USMC Sharpshooter for both rifles and pistols. When he returned stateside, he remained in the Marine Corps Reserves and was honorably discharged in July 1962.

On July 17, 1960, he married his high school sweetheart and the “girl next door”, Jeannette E. Haney at the United Methodist Church in Franklin, New York. For the nearly 61 years to come they were inseparable.

They started life in a small apartment in Oneonta while Clyde dreamed of becoming a dairy farmer and slowly, they saved money to buy a dairy farm of their own. In March of 1963 they purchased a farm in Otego, New York they called O-T-Go Valley Farm. For the next 45 years they built and maintained one of the loveliest dairy farms in the state. They were honored by being named one of the first New York Dairy of Distinction farms in 1983. They received the highest score possible. Clyde also took a section of the farm and created O-T-Go Valley housing development. Many will remember their wonderful Christmas lights and decorations that they enjoyed sharing with everyone in the spirit of Holidays.

Clyde led an active life locally, regionally and nationally. In Otego, he served on the Town Planning Board, President of the PTA, and on the Unatego Central School Board where he served as its President until 1983. He was honored by both the towns of Otego and Unadilla as the Unatego Person of the Millennium in 2000.

All the while he was becoming more involved in Dairylea Cooperative. He served as a delegate and on the Resolutions Committee, then was elected to the Board of Directors in 1973. Two years later he was named Treasurer. In the fall of 1978, he was elected the youngest President to lead Dairylea. He later also became Chairman of the Board in 1989. He was synonymous with the company and was “Mr. Dairylea” to many. He led the company through some very dark days and into the time when it became the largest dairy cooperative in the Northeast. He worked tirelessly to improve the livelihood of not only Dairylea members but for all farmers.

He was a guest lecturer at Harvard Business School and Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. What he and the Dairylea team accomplished is still studied in business schools today.

Clyde served the dairy industry on numerous boards and committees including Dairy Farmers of America (Executive Committee), National Milk Producers Federation (First Vice Chairman), National Livestock Producers Association (Vice Chairman), Dairy One (Vice Chairman), US Dairy Export Council, Innovation Center for US Dairy, Empire Livestock Marketing and Blue Cross-Blue Shield of Central New York and many more.

Additionally, Clyde chaired the National Dairy Commission and served as chair of the National Farm Bill. The boy who was sent to the principal’s office because he would not stand in front of class to give a speech, grew into a man who would speak before hundreds, testify before Congress and worked with Governors and Presidents on numerous occasions for the benefit of dairy farmers.

Over his career he was honored with many awards and recognition for his work. Among them are: National Milk Producers Federation Hall of Fame Award, Distinguished Service Citation from the New York State Agricultural Society, Richard Lyng Award from National Dairy Board, Tom Camerlo Leadership Award (given in honor of his good friend) and the “Pride of Dairylea” Award.

Clyde officially retired from Dairylea in April 2012.

Those who knew him know he enjoyed driving, anywhere and everywhere but especially to go meet with dairy farmers. He and Jeannette loved to travel. They started traveling from the time they were married and made sure their two daughters visited all 50 states and beyond. A highlight was a summer long trip to Alaska in 1973 and driving the Alaska Highway to Fairbanks when it was only a dirt road. Together they saw the world from Europe to Australia.

Clyde’s greatest love was his family.

He is survived by his devoted wife, Jeannette Rutherford of Monroe Township, New Jersey. His loving daughters, Diane and her husband, E. David Krol II and Nancy and her husband, Michael Gorelick. His beloved grandchildren: Emily and Allison Gorelick and Alexandra and John Krol. His sister, Mary Jane Beers as well as sisters and brothers-in-law and many nieces, nephews, and grandnieces and grandnephews. He was also very blessed with wonderful friends near and far. He is predeceased by his two brothers, Donald and Raymond.

Visitation will be held on May 1 at 10:00 am at Franklin United Methodist Church, 475 Main Street, Franklin, New York. Funeral Service will be held on May 1, 2021 at 11:00 am at Franklin United Methodist Church, 475 Main Street, Franklin, New York. Burial will immediately follow in the family plot in the Ouleout Cemetery, Franklin.

Those who wish may make memorial donations to the Franklin American Legion, 327 Main Street, PO Box 24, Franklin, NY 13775 in Clyde’s name.

All guests planning to attend are required to wear masks and abide by current social distancing guidelines.


  • Franklin American Legion


  • Visitation

    Saturday, May 1, 2021

  • Funeral Service

    Saturday, May 1, 2021



Clyde Eugene Rutherford

have a memory or condolence to add?

Ken and Pat Worden

May 4, 2021

Our sincere condolences to the family. Clyde will be remembered for his kindness, smile, leadership and influence in the dairy industry. Ken and I have fond memories of Clyde at our annual local Dairylea meetings. A wonderful gentleman that leaves a legacy his family will cherish for generations to come.

Wayne Palla

April 29, 2021

It was my honor and privilege to have served with Clyde on the boards of National Milk Producers Federation and Dairy Farmers of America. My first introduction to Clyde was in 1982 when we testified before a House Sub Committee in Washington. I was impressed with his gentlemanly demeanor coupled with his intense focus on the matter before us. Even though we lived in different parts of the country, I would always read any article that had Clyde’s name mentioned just to see what he was doing. It was after l was on the boards of DFA and NMPF that I got to work closely with Clyde on various committees. There were many times that there were diverse opinions being expressed, sometimes quite strongly, and Clyde would sit and listen to everyone before he would speak. Then he would politely and quietly state his ideas on the subject at hand and somehow form a consensus of opinions that everyone seemed willing to accept and embrace. Clyde was able to unite people around a cause, get them to act, and move it forward. To me, that was one of his greatest attributes. I truly believe and have expressed it often that Clyde was one of the driving forces that developed the US Dairy Industry into what it is today. Linda and I send our sincere condolences to Jeanette and the entire Rutherford family. He was a good friend and will be missed by all.
Wayne and Linda Palla

Sandy Stauffer

April 25, 2021

It was an honor to serve on the Dairylea Board and also the Dairy Farmers of America Corporate Board with Clyde. His leadership benefited the entire United States dairy industry. May the knowledge of his life of service comfort you through your loss Jeanette.

Anthony Casale

April 24, 2021

I had the privilege of working with Clyde when I served in the State Assembly. Clyde was a fierce advocate for the needs of dairy farmers and agri-business. He accomplished so many of his goals by being bold and articulate while remaining a gentleman at all times. My condolences to his family.

Anuja Miner

April 21, 2021

Clyde was truly a leader and a gentleman. I got to know him in 1998 when I got my job at NMPF. He was such a humble, kind and caring individual and oh so smart who always had a smile on his face. Once he started laughing, he couldn't stop. He and his wonderful wife Jeanette were truly a magical couple. They were always together and always holding hands. I will miss you dearly my friend and know that you will be remembered for your kindness and wonderful smile. You had such an impact on my career at NMPF and you were always willing and ready to sit down and have a conversation and teach me things about the dairy industry. RIP Mr. Rutherford. With respect, your friend Anuja