Thursday, December 4, 2014

George Rutherfurd: The Later Years

This is the eighth and final post in a series about my great-grandfather, George Roscoe Oliver Rutherfurd.

My grandmother told me that after her mother's death, friends were always trying to set George up with women.  He was still fairly young, in his mid-40s, and his friends didn't want him to be alone the rest of his life.  However, George found love for a second time without any outside help.  He had known Ozelda "Dandy" Dandurand Roberts for many years because they both worked for the telephone company.  Dandy had been married to the late John H. Roberts but had no children.  She had been widowed for a couple of years when George lost his wife, Julia.

George's employment at the telephone company had already allowed him to meet his first wife, given him a wartime assignment that kept him out of the trenches, and now it was about to change his life for a third time.  George and Dandy were married in 1942.

George and Dandy

My grandmother said that she had dreaded her father getting re-married after her beloved mother's death.  However, she liked Dandy, and Dandy never tried to replace her mother in any way.  They established a good relationship, and LaVerne was glad that George and Dandy made each other so happy.  Dandy was also a wonderful grandmother to LaVerne's children, all of whom spoke lovingly of her.  I had the pleasure of meeting Dandy several times in the 1980s, when she was in her nineties.  I remember her warm demeanor and the affection she showed us, even though my brothers and I were all at ages when we must have been a handful.

George in downtown Los Angeles

After their marriage, George and Dandy settled in Arcadia, east of Los Angeles.  By all accounts, they were very happy together.  They both liked to paint and were interested in photography. They shared an enthusiasm for travel and reading.  George also continued to have success at work.  In 1946, he was promoted to Plant Extension Engineer, after many years in management positions.  Outside of the office, he was involved with the Los Angeles Yacht Club, where he served on the board of directors and as chairman of the annual regatta.  My mother remembers him being quite the social butterfly, with many friends and social obligations.  He and Dandy had active social lives and enjoyed these years together.

Eventually, George retired from Pacific Telephone and Telegraph.  He and Dandy chose to retire on the same day and were given a lovely retirement party by their colleagues.  Then, George and Dandy bought an Airstream trailer and spent about a year traveling around the United States together.

George and Dandy during their travels around America

 After returning from their travels, in 1952, George and Dandy built a house at 710 Park Knoll Lane in Fallbrook, California.  Fallbrook was, at the time, a small, rural country town in northern San Diego County.  They had friends there and the quiet environment suited this time in their lives.

A modern view of the house at 710 Park Knoll Ln.  The wing on the left, with porch and chimney, is a new addition.

George left behind journals for the years 1952-1962. They detail construction of the house in Fallbrook, extensive travels with Dandy and visits with family and friends, including his daughter LaVerne (whom he called "Tommy") and her children.  Since there are too many entries to copy here, I've selected a few to give an idea of George's activities during these years.

1952, April 18: House & garage are framed, roofed, shingled, felt paper & chicken wire all around, fireplace in, hardwood floor laid in dining room, subflooring in rest of house, septic tank partly installed, electric wiring in and connected, garage doors installed.

1954, November 7: [Most of this year was spent traveling with Dandy in the Airstream]  Florida.  The dew collects at night until it looks as though it had rained.  A man in South Carolina told us that the east coast of Florida catered to the "fast" crowd while the west coast is for the more leisurely elders.  From the way they drive around here it seems that he was correct in part of his statement.  Clear day with a breeze off of the ocean.

1957, July 23: To Los Angeles, where Drs. Guiss and DeMoss, after poking the neck until it became tender, decided that the trouble is not a swollen lymph gland.  Quien sabe?  On the way home visited Tommy & family and Helen & Frank.

1961, June 24: In the past period we have (1) Visited El Jacal for some delicious Mexican food. (2) Been entertained by Tommy, Glenn and the four "at homes" at a delayed Father's Day dinner.  The food was superb & the company excellent. (3) At Dr. Lewington's request a PH blood test.  I doubt if there was ever a more unique doctor patient relationship. (4) Spent time with Helen. (5) Returned to Fallbrook today.  The trip down was through considerable heat but the weather at home was comfortable.

In 1962, George's health declined sharply.  He wrote in his journal less and his hand was shakier.  He was ill and in and out of the hospital.  Dandy began to write entries in his journal for him, noting visitors to their home and medical developments.

George Rutherfurd died of throat cancer on August 22, 1962 in Fallbrook.  He was 67 and had been ill for some time.  In his journal, Dandy wrote the following:

George went on his way today at 5:51pm.  Tommy was with him.

The funeral was held on August 25, 1962 at St. John's Episcopal Church in Fallbrook.  George was survived by his wife, Dandy, his daughter, LaVerne, and five grandchildren.  He was buried at Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City, California, in the same plot with his first wife, Julia Barrett Rutherfurd.

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