James Lamar Rutledge, 64, passed away on February 6, 2022. A memorial service celebrating his life will be held at Strickland Funeral Home in Somerville at 12:00 pm Noon on Saturday, March 5, 2022. After the memorial service has concluded, guests are invited to enjoy brisket, enchiladas, 70’s rock and 90’s country at the Birch Creek Forest Community Building. The family looks forward to visiting with friends and hearing your memories of Jim.
Jim was a proud Texan and stubborn to a fault, but he was proud of that as well. He loved fast cars and slow barbecue, loud music and quiet days fishing or watching spaghetti westerns at his home on Lake Somerville. But what he loved most was his family and friends, many of which became like family.
Jim was born on July 2, 1957, in San Antonio, Texas, to parents Robert Jackson Rutledge and Nina (Tackitt) Rutledge. He spent his youth working with horses and causing trouble on the family ranch outside San Antonio, and then later working on cars and causing trouble with the Tanglewild group around roadways of Houston. As a young man, Jim tried to go faster than everyone else, whether on a horse, in a car, or on a motorcycle. He raced motorcycles for several years, and on more than one occasion narrowly escaped death while doing his best impersonation of a flaming meteor.
After he graduated from Robert E. Lee high school in 1975, Jim took over his family photography business, alongside his brother John. Photography – they shot primarily panoramic school photos -- took him across Texas, and eventually to Florida, where he lived for several years. Along the way, he met Kathleen Forrester, whom he managed to convince to dump her fiancé and move to Texas with him in the span of a weekend. They married in 1980, and had two children, Colleen and Sean, who were blessed with his good looks, but cursed with his stubbornness and love of fast cars. While the couple separated in 1997, they remained friends.
Jim also worked for several years as an electrician, again narrowly escaping death (or so he would claim) while handling the wiring at a nuclear power plant. He then turned to home building and remodeling, with expertise in all aspects of design and build. This work included building in Long Island New York as well as a stint in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina, demolishing and rebuilding damaged homes. During this time, he---you guessed it---narrowly avoided death after contracting tuberculosis in the Big Easy.
Jim returned to Texas for good in 2006, where he continued to work on homes, including renovating a house for his mother Nina, after the family home where they were living burned down. (Death avoided yet again). Along the way he met and lived for many years with Ms. Diana Lovelace and her family, where he became an honorary Louisianan, the designated family comedian and spontaneous midnight dance party initiator, and from whom he learned to appreciate the finer points of gumbo and boudin. He also made regular extended trips to see his children out East, including helping renovate his daughter’s basement in 2013. His work was always high quality and clearly done by someone with an eye for design; no surprise since he also enjoyed drawing and painting. His only requirement was that he not have to work more than two or three days consecutively, so that he could have plenty of time to prepare all-day barbecues for his kids and grandkids. He instilled in them a love of ribs, and an understanding that mustard has no place in barbecue sauce.
After his mother’s passing, Jim moved to Lake Somerville to be closer to his brother John, and to the lake where he had been fishing and riding around in a speedboat driven by his brother, for many years.
He befriended both the neighbors and the local wildlife (referring to the deer as his “Big Dogs”). He hosted regular visits with his friends and with his grandsons at “Camp Papa” where they battled with nerf guns, fished on the lake, and played with the massive slot-car track he built for them in his garage. He spent every Sunday with his brother John, watching NASCAR, drag racing, football, or baseball. He loved Dale Ehrhardt Jr., the Cowboys and Texans, and, in his later years, the Astros. While Jim couldn’t escape death forever, he made a good run of it, and lived life on his own terms.
James is preceded in death by his parents and grandparents. Surviving loved ones include his son Sean Thomas Rutledge of Waterford, Michigan; daughter Colleen Theresa Brown of Washington DC, her husband Dylan, their children Owen Bailey, Liam Jackson, and Rory Giles, and beloved grand-dog Bad Bad Leroy Brown; siblings John Rutledge, Jody Rutledge, and half-sister Linda Rutledge; niece Britney Rutledge Crank, her husband Chad Crank, and their daughter Emersyn; niece Jamie Leigh Hubbell; former wife Kathleen Theresa Rutledge; a wonderful extended family of Tackitt cousins; and many close friends, including his best friend Diana Lovelace and her family Shannon Seiver Stuart and her husband James Stuart, and their children Thomas Seiver, Evie Stuart, and Diana’s brother Richard Bard, friends Krissy and Bill Birdsong, George Johnson, Lisa Goode Edmonson Payton, and Somerville neighbors Miss Eazy and Ronnie Jones. Jim managed to piss off quite a few people in his time, but he was loved by many more.
In accordance with his wishes, James will be cremated with his ashes split between Lake Somerville and whatever racetrack his family is able to sneak him on to.