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Life Story / Obituary
With a life that spanned times of war and times of peace, times of plenty and times of want, Lyle Rutgers was a blessing to everyone he met. He was kindhearted and generous with his time, talent, and resources, and his devotion to his community was easy to see. A more loving husband and father would be hard to find, but Lyle just might have argued that nothing was better than becoming a grandfather later in life. Known for his strong work ethic, he was a true inspiration to all who were near. Life will never be the same without Lyle here, but he leaves behind a priceless collection of memories that his loved ones will forever hold near and dear to their hearts.
Life during the 1930s was anything but easy as the entire decade was cloaked in the hardship of the Great Depression. Jobs were scarce, the unemployment rate soared, and countless American families lost their homes. Despite the trials around them, Herman and Mabel (Green) Rutgers were able to shift their focus to an exciting time in their own lives as they announced the birth of the baby boy they named Lyle on December 19, 1934, in their family home Hopkins, Michigan. He was the youngest of four boys as he was raised in the family home alongside his older brothers, Donald, Howard, and Gale.
Raised on the family farm, Lyle was a typical young boy of his generation. The Rutgers family was a close one, and they were both German and Dutch in heritage. Lyle’s father was self-employed while his mother was a busy homemaker. Lyle, his father, and his brothers were given a tough pill to swallow with the death of his mother in 1944. He attended local schools including Hopkins High where he was the manager of high school sports. Lyle was also involved in church and became close friends with Bill Baker.
After graduating from high school in 1953, Lyle was eager for all that life had in store. He served in the United States Army from 1954 through 1956 as a specialist 4 class. With his military duties fulfilled, Lyle returned home and attended Western Michigan University. While there he was close to a group of people who all lived in the same hall, and together this group started a vintage 60s Broncos club that continued to meet 50 years later. Lyle graduated with a BBA degree in 1961.
New and exciting changes were in store for Lyle when he met the young woman of his dreams. Her name was Ginger, and they met during college when Lyle and his friend Kirit Mody rented a duplex that Ginger and her friend also rented. Sparks flew, and they began dating. It didn’t take Lyle and Ginger long to fall in love, and with a desire to spend the rest of their lives together they were married on September 10, 1966, at the Portage Methodist Church. Together they welcomed two children, Mindy and Gregg, into their hearts and home. There was never anything of greater significance in Lyle’s life than his family. He loved being a husband and father, and later on a grandfather as well. The family had numerous dogs over the years, but their cocker spaniel, Sammy, was a part of the family for many years. Lyle worked hard to support his family, often bringing work home and putting in many hours a day. Holidays were special times in their family as it was a time for everyone to be all together. He was an active part of his granddaughter’s life, and he loved watching her play sports, dance, and take part in other events and activities.
Throughout his life Lyle was one to keep busy. With a love for his community and others, he spent many hours volunteering. Lyle enjoyed helping people so for years he volunteered at the hospital, but he also liked being Santa at the Marquette Mall during the holidays. For 26 years, he was an active member of the Presbyterian Church in Marquette. After retiring from being an Auditor in 1997, Lyle had even more time to pursue his passions. He continued gathering with his group of college friends, meeting somewhere every two years, often in the Midwest. These were memorable trips filled with plenty of time to catch up, share stories, and just have fun. The Vintage 60s Broncos have officially been celebrating reunions since 1977, but their meetings began long before that. Lyle enjoyed playing cards with friends and being a spectator at sports with his favorite teams being the Detroit Tigers and the Green Bay Packers. He was involved with the Rotary, Lions, and was also a Mason. For many years he bowled on leagues. After retiring, Lyle did some more traveling as they took trips to Hawaii and San Diego. He listened to country and western music, and he watched the news, Wheel of Fortune, and Jeopardy every night. Life changed for Lyle in June of 2014 when he lost his wife to ALS.
All who knew Lyle Rutgers would agree that he was an extraordinary man to know and love. He was giving, compassionate, and kind, and a friend of Lyle’s was a friend for life. Deeply loyal to his family, his friends, and his community, Lyle touched the lives of those too numerous to count. Deeply loved, he will be forever missed.
Lyle Rutgers, of Mattawan, died peacefully with his children by his side on January 11, 2018. Lyle’s family includes his children: Mindy Rutgers and Gregg (Shawn) Rutgers; sisters-in-law, Janet Rutgers and Elizabeth Rutgers; one granddaughter, Taylor Rutgers as well as several nieces, nephews and cousins. Lyle was preceded in death by his parents, Ginger, and his siblings: Donald, Howard, Gale as well as his sister who passed away at birth. Visit with his family and friends and view his life story film on Wednesday, February 7 from 4:00 - 5:00 p.m. at the Life Story Funeral Home, Portage; 5975 Lovers Lane (344-5600). A memorial service will follow at 5:00 p.m. at the same location. A gathering and small service is being planned in Marquette later this year at the First Presbyterian Church. Please visit Lyle’s memory page at www.lifestorynet.com where you can archive a memory or photo and sign his memory book online. Memorial donations can be made to the First Presbyterian Church in Marquette.