Monday, 12 April 2010

A life well lived & odd memories

Richard Gordon Rutter

Richard or Dick as he was affectionately known by many, was born in Walsall on 10th Feb 1925 and was the youngest of 7 children and last surviving family member.
He was a loving father to three children Carol, Lindy and Mike, with nine grand children and three great grand children.

His childhood days were spent at Palfrey school in Walsall, and when not at school he was regularly expected to work in the family allotment with brother Jim, for his few farthings pocket money.

His first proper job was for a transport company called Hickenbottom’s, this position was short lived because at the tender age of 19, he was called up for the army joining his three elder brothers. When posted abroad, not wanting to worry his parents he wrote several letters and asked a mate to post them periodically saying that he was training in the south of England and it was only when his parents read about him in the local paper did they realise he was at war.

During his army days some of which are well documented he was made up to Sergeant Major and courageously led his men into battle many times unfortunately loosing a lot of friends and colleagues along the way. During the war he was awarded the military medal which he was very proud of and was even talking about it the day before he died. He was asked where he won the medal and although he was very confused about most day to day things he clearly understood the question and replied “Normandy.”

In January 1948 after the war he was called to work in the Gambia with displaced Africans, trying to set up new villages, clearing forests etc.  During his time there he was presented with an ebony elephant to bring back to England. He arrived back in the UK in November 1948 to the family home on the Broadway in Walsall. The elephant was put away in a draw and forgotten about.  Soon after arriving home he started to have a run of bad luck.  A lady stopped him on the street one day and explained that his run of bad luck was due to the elephant. He returned home, found the elephant and burnt it, sure enough life seemed to get better. Apparently Elephants do not like to be locked away.

He started a new job working for the BRS as a long distant lorry driver.  Whilst driving he was away from home one night and parked up in a lorry park. Whilst walking about the lorry park he smelled something burning, he wandered around for a few minutes looking and realised it was one of the parked lorries. The solenoid had stuck on this lorry. Richard fetched a crow bar from his lorry and levered the battery leads off to prevent it setting on fire. The security people looking after the lorry park at first thought he was vandalising the lorry and got very angry.  He explained and left his name and address and walked away. Weeks later he was honoured and mentioned in the paper saying how his actions had prevented what may have been a very nasty lorry fire in the middle of a park full of lorries and fuel.

On the 1st September 1951 Richard married Patricia and lived in Lord Street, Walsall where Carol and Lindy were born and Pat ran a small hairdressing business. Richard’s elderly dad George, lived with the family until his death early in 1960.

After this, the family travelled far and wide. Richard had a motorbike and sidecar. Carol and Lindy rode in the sidecar, Richard and Pat on the bike, and Timmy their springer spaniel in the sidecar boot. Timmy had the sleeve cut out from an old army t shirt pulled over his head to hold his ears down. 

Soon an old Hillman car arrived which took the family on swimming and picnic trips to Swancote most Sundays, as well as trips to Sherbrook forest where they used to go walking for miles and deer spotting quite frequently. They would have many wonderful weekends visiting the family at Holt Fleet and Gloucester were they would have big family gatherings with his older brother Bill and his wife Ida.

Richard would often join shooting parties, all his life he enjoyed shooting, his father’s shooting diaries were always a point of interest, the shooting parties fed the family whist they were all at home as children.

In 1960 the family moved to Wolverhampton Road, Cannock. Where once again Pat his wife set up the family hairdressing business. It was there that Mike was born. Richard went to work for Columbus Dixon as a very successful salesman, selling huge floor cleaning machines.  During these years Richard was presented with three major awards for top sales man, winning family holidays abroad.

While Mike was still a small baby in 1964, the family moved to Cannock Wood where Richard and Pat set up home for their family. Over the coming years many family parties were held at the house and everyone was always welcome. The front door to the house was never locked and friends would always just let themselves in whenever passing.

On December 9th 1971 a car accident was responsible for the tragic death of Richard’s wife Pat. Carol was 17, Lindy 16, Mike 7.  Shortly after Pat died Richard was taken into hospital for a major stomach operation that was not successful, so was followed by further major surgery a week later. He was very ill. It was a difficult time.

Within a very short time the girls had left home, Carol to college, Lindy got married and Mike was home with Richard and the family dog; Buster.

In the early 70s Richard became a salesman for a double glazing and storm porch company run by his good friend David Ray. This was where he met his second wife to be Sheila. During the company weekly Sunday morning sales meetings at the T.I club in Aldridge, Mike his young son had great delight in racing his dad’s company car around the local car park.

In 1983, Richard married his second wife Shelia. During their 13years of marriage they enjoyed many, holidays abroad and attended many reunions and memorials to Epron and Normandy.

Richard now getting older, was asked by his brother George, if he would like to join the family antiques business in Walsall restoring antiques and regularly attended antique auctions. He thoroughly enjoyed himself during these years.
Sheila, Richard’s second wife sadly passed away in November 1996.

In the year 2000, Richard finally retired, and has spent these last ten years, catching up with old army pals and regularly attending Sunday morning meetings, together with voluntary work at Whittington Barracks Museum. He even carried out an interview with BBC radio stoke were he talked in detail about his experiences during the war.

Richard became ill at the beginning of February this year and following a short spell in hospital, spent his last three weeks in a local nursing home, where up until the day he died he was still playing up the nursing staff affectionately calling them his "Harem."

Richard was a very loving, proud, hardworking and generous person. He was always immaculately dressed. He loved life, his family and friends.  In his later years he sought particular enjoyment from his garden, wildlife, music and the occasional shot of whisky and lemonade. We will miss him.

RIP dad :-) 

Post script
The funeral was a celebration of dad's life, we were all delighted by the company and the whole event, and though sad it could not have been better. There was an obituary posted in the timesonline 21st Apri 2010:
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/obituaries/article7103020.ece

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