Obituary: William H. Rutherford

William H. (Bill) Rutherford, 87, died Sept. 19, in Fort Collins.

A native Coloradan, Bill was born Oct. 30, 1927, in Georgetown, to Ethel E. and William I. Rutherford. His siblings were Frank, John, Jean, and Glenn.

After graduating from high school — one of eight classmates — he entered the US Army in Jan., 1946, serving until April, 1947. He went on to attend Colorado State University (then Colorado A&M College), earning a bachelor’s and master’s degree in wildlife biology. After graduation he began working for the Colorado Division of Wildlife, where he was employed for 34 years.

Bill devoted his life to the wildlife of Colorado, working his entire career as a wildlife research biologist. He spent many years as a waterfowl biologist and was part of a team that restored Canada goose populations to the state. An avid hunter, he was a member of Ducks Unlimited and other conservation organizations. He was also instrumental in developing a remedy for a deadly parasite that was decimating the state’s bighorn sheep population, allowing the herds to survive and thrive. His legacy lies in the wetlands and mountains of Colorado, in the whistle of wings at sunrise and the rifle-shot crack of horns as two majestic rams vie for supremacy.

He was a hard worker, an ethic that began in his youth when he worked as a logger for a Georgetown sawmill at the age of 15. With his father and a brother, he helped develop the hiking trail up Mount Evans.

In 1954, he married Clarice Blair. A devoted father, he enjoyed spending time with his children, Lynn and Burt. He also enjoyed camping, fly fishing, and gunsmithing, and his love of wildflowers led to an extensive collection of wildflower photographs.

Bill is survived by his brother Glenn, of Brownsville, Texas; his wife, Clarice; their son, Burt (Debby) of Amarillo, Texas; their daughter, Lynn Phillips (Lynn) of Fort Collins; granddaughters Heather Kent (John) of Fort Collins; Jennifer Phillips of Corvallis, Oregon; Paige Rutherford of Denver; and Meggin Jackson (Ben) of Golden; a great-granddaughter, Annelyce Jackson; and numerous nephews and nieces.

Visitation was held Sept. 24 at Vessey Funeral Service. A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Friday, Oct. 2, at Foothills Unitarian Church. Interment will be at the Rutherford family plot in Georgetown.

If desired, memorial contributions can be made to Ducks Unlimited ( and Pathways Hospice. Send the family a condolence at

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