Phillip R. Rutherford, 78, of Roxton, passed away Sept. 20, 2018, at his home surrounded by family. Funeral services will be held at Roxton United Methodist Church on Monday, Sept. 24, 2018, at 11 a.m., with Ed Dodd and Paul Bailey officiating. The family will receive visitors at the church at 10 a.m. before the service, and a graveside service will follow at Restland Cemetery in Roxton.
Born October 13, 1939, to Dorine (White) and Phillip Z. “Foots” Rutherford, he attended Petty and Roxton schools before graduating from Paris High School in 1958. He then attended East Texas State University, receiving his B.A. and M.A., followed in 1966 by the University’s first-ever Ph.D. granted in Linguistics.
In 1961, he married his lifelong friend and love, Lou Carolyn May. The couple had two sons, Phil in 1963 and Kris in 1966. Soon after receiving his Ph.D., Phillip moved his family to Maine where he was Professor of English at the University of Southern Maine, serving several years as department head. After 20 years in New England, the South called him back, and he finished his professional career at Arkansas Tech University in Russellville, Arkansas. While a professor, he wrote numerous articles in magazines such as the Civil War Times and his first book, The Dictionary of Maine Place Names. In 1985, he edited and published the first edition of Fifty Years in Texas, a transcription of the diaries of his great-great-grandfather, John A. Rutherford, the first judge of Lamar County.
Soon after his retirement, he returned to his beloved hometown of Roxton where he quickly became involved in community affairs and pursued his passions of writing, local history, woodworking, antiques, and countless other interests. He helped establish the City Drug Store Museum, Roxton’s library, the Roxton Veterans Memorial, the Chaparral Museum, and other projects. He served on committees and boards for all of these projects as well as the Chaparral Rails to Trails and the City of Roxton Community Development Committee. Phillip served several terms on the Roxton City Council before being appointed and ultimately elected Mayor of Roxton, a position he held at the time of his death.
Phillip wrote numerous books after he retired to Roxton, three focusing on stories and tales of southwestern Lamar County from the mid-1800s through the Great Depression. In 2016, he completed, with co-author Bea Roden, the most extensive history of Roxton to date, Near Paradise: The History of Roxton, Texas. Most recently, he wrote Voices from the War, a collection of biographies of World War II veterans from the Roxton area. Although he sold many books, Phillip kept none of the proceeds, donating all profits to the City of Roxton for use on Roxton community projects.
Phillip was predeceased by his parents. His survivors include his wife of Roxton; sons Phillip T. Rutherford of Huntington, West Virginia, and Kris Rutherford and wife Karen of Maumelle, Arkansas; grandchildren Kristianna Rowe and husband Hayden of Gravel Ridge, Arkansas, Klayton Rutherford and wife Faith Robinson of Providence Village, Texas, and Kolton Rutherford of Maumelle, Arkansas; a great grandson and namesake, Jack Phillip Rowe of Gravel Ridge, Arkansas; and many very special cousins and friends.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the Roxton Mural Restoration Project or the Chaparral Rails to Trails.
Phillip Rutherford’s loves were two-fold, first his family and second, Roxton. Thanks to his devotion, knowledge, skills, and leadership, he leaves both as his legacy.
Online condolences may be made to the Rutherford family by visiting www.fry-gibbs.com.