Lyon College Set To Honor Rutherford


BATESVILLE, Ark. – Those who knew Batesville’s James L. “GG” Rutherford, Jr. remember him for a giving and generous spirit. They remember his interest and support of what was then called Arkansas College (now Lyon College). Rutherford, who passed away last month, will be honored on Friday, April 18, when Lyon names the press box at Scots Field the “James L. ‘GG’ Rutherford, Jr. Press Box.”

The dedication, directed by Lyon College President Dr. Donald Weatherman, will take place at 1 p.m. at the baseball field. The event will occur prior to the Scots’ American Midwest Conference game against Harris-Stowe State University, which gets underway at 2 p.m.

Rutherford, who was 92 at the time of his passing, was a lifelong resident of Batesville and a 1942 graduate of Arkansas College. He lettered in both baseball and basketball at the College, and was later inducted into the Lyon Athletics Hall of Fame in 1991 as its 36th member.

Rutherford’s son Skip Rutherford, who is dean of the Clinton School of Public Service in Little Rock, said, “[My dad] played baseball as a youth, in high school and in college, and loved it all his life. He  was also a devoted Cardinal fan. He could never quite understand why his son (Skip) rooted for the Dodgers and his grandson (Blake Rutherford) loved the Red Sox.”

Dr. Weatherman admitted that he will truly miss his relationship with Rutherford.

“I will miss my conversations with GG,” Dr. Weatherman stated. “He had a remarkable knowledge of the College’s past and a great capacity for telling stories about it and the people he knew here.

“He was one of the kindest gentlemen I’ve ever met.”

Linn Garner, a 1953 graduate of Arkansas College, a former collegiate basketball player and a member of the Lyon Athletics Hall of Fame Class of 1989, first became acquainted with Rutherford through Garner’s high school coach, Hayden Estes (HOF – ’88), who had played basketball at Arkansas College. He said Rutherford made a great impression on him.

“When I graduated from (Ash Flat) high school, I got a scholarship and went and stayed for about a month with a lot of my friends who went to Arkansas College,” Garner said. “At that time the College didn’t have a lot of money, but Hayden introduced me to GG, and I saw that he was always ‘going up and down the street’ trying to raise money to help pay the teachers’ salaries there.

“He was a great supporter of the athletics department at the College and he was always so dedicated to helping the programs.”

Garner said when the team he was playing on won the State Basketball AAU Tournament and was trying to raise money to travel to Denver, Colo. for the national tournament, it was Rutherford who knocked on his door at 2 a.m. with a donation.

“He was just that kind of a guy,” Garner said of Rutherford. “He was a gentleman and a real intelligent person; he always wanted to help and do something for someone else. The Rutherford’s were all great supporters. I enjoyed knowing him and consider him an exceptional friend.”

Rutherford was a retired banker and landowner. As a young boy, he was given the nickname “GG” by his cousin.

He began his banking career with First National Bank of Batesville in 1957. He attended Southwestern Graduate School of Banking at Southern Methodist University and retired as executive vice president of the bank in 1987.

A veteran of World War II, where he served in the Pacific as a commissioned officer in the United States Coast Guard, Rutherford later co-owned and managed two farms in Independence and Jackson counties with members of his extended family. He was a member of the First Presbyterian Church of Batesville, serving as both a deacon and a trustee. 

He was preceded in death by his wife, Kathleen Roberson Rutherford.

Fred Lamb, who also played basketball at Arkansas College a number of years later, was a 1966 graduate of the College and a 1998 inductee into the Lyon Athletics Hall of Fame, said he met Rutherford while attending the school and immediately had respect for him.

“GG Rutherford was a true gentleman, a special person,” Lamb stated. “Some people ‘have it’ and GG was one of those; he really knew how to make things happen. When he talked, people wanted to listen to what he had to say.”

Lamb said that he couldn’t think of anyone more deserving of this honor than Rutherford.

“I always thought so much of him,” he added. “He made everyone around him better; he knew how to get things done, and he was one of those people that deserves to be recognized for his hard work and what he meant to others.”

The public is invited to attend the dedication of the press box.

Courtesy Lyon College

Tags: , ,