William L. Rutherford, Jr., M.D., 79, of Erie, IL, passed away peacefully July 16, 2020, surrounded by loved ones. Cremation rites have been accorded and no services have been scheduled per his wishes. Vandemore Funeral Homes & Crematory – Geneseo Chapel is assisting the family.
He was born to William and Hazel (Sommer) Rutherford in Peoria, IL, June 26, 1941. He attended Keller School, Peoria High School, and Richwoods High School. In addition to track and basketball, Bill enjoyed summers on the Illinois River with his friends and flying with his father.
Bill attended Stanford University where he affiliated with Kappa Sigma, later serving as President. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa in Biology, 1963. Further studies at Cornell Medical College, New York City, earned him an M.D. degree and membership in Alpha Omega Alpha, the honorary medical fraternity, 1967. Bill then served an Internal Medicine internship at the University of California San Francisco, during the “summer of love”, an eye-opener for the conservative Peoria doctor.
Bill flew with his dad from the age of four. He soloed on his 16 th birthday. Following medical school, Bill was accepted by United Air Lines for pilot training and began flying March 1969. His various domiciles included Washington, D.C., Chicago, San Francisco, and Denver. He also worked as a Line Check Airman, as Flight Manager, and finished his career at United as Vice President of Flight Standards and Training at the Denver Training Facility. Bill worked with the Air Line Pilot’s Assoc. in various capacities from 1969 – 2000, specializing in Human Factors and accident investigation.
During the Vietnam War, Bill served as an Air Force Flight Surgeon with the Strategic Air Command, based in Blytheville, AR. Later, during an imposed furlough from UAL, he worked at Edwards Air Force Base as a flight surgeon in Aeronautical Medicine.
In 1983, Bill married Jan Viera Gallant. They combined families to include four children, and were delighted to welcome a daughter, Ann, in 1984.
In 1993, the family moved to the Geneseo, IL area to be near the farm Bill loved so much. Bill’s community involvement, while limited by his time away from home for work, included Band Boosters and Kiwanis. He maintained his connection with Peoria serving as President of the Forest Park Foundation for over 20 years.
Family left to mourn his loss include: his wife, Jan; daughter Ann Rutherford; two stepsons, John Gallant and Mike Gallant; brother Dr. Ladd Rutherford (Bonnie) and their four adult children, Lisa, Ladd (Rachel), Bill and Bob (Lindsay), nieces and nephews, two older daughters, Katie and Amy, their children and grandchildren.
Memorials may be made to First Lutheran Church, Geneseo and Kiwanis Club of Geneseo.
Posted online on July 17, 2020