Jacqueline Caswell Rutherford, age 92, passed away September 12, 2023, surrounded by family who loved her dearly. Jackie was born to Bowers and Nell Caswell in Crenshaw County, Alabama on September 29, 1930. The family moved to DeFuniak Springs, her father’s hometown, when she was a young child. Although Jackie had no siblings, she had many first cousins who were her best friends and playmates while growing up.
She attended grammar school in DeFuniak Springs and graduated from Walton High School in 1948. Jackie was active in many school organizations including cheerleading, basketball, and being a majorette. In the 1940s, she was crowned Miss DeFuniak Springs. As an adolescent, she was a voracious reader and was a regular patron of the DeFuniak Springs Public Library. During her formative years, she was blessed with a circle of friends who remained extremely close throughout her life.
At age 14, Jackie met a handsome 16-year-old football player named Perry Curtis Rutherford and was immediately smitten. Before beginning an official five-year courtship, they saw each other at school, church, and community functions. Jackie always said she tried to stand by PC when games requiring hand holding were played! They were married at First Methodist Church on September 8, 1951, and immediately relocated to Waltham, Massachusetts for PC to complete his Air Force service. While in Massachusetts, they welcomed a son, Allan. After returning to DeFuniak Springs, their daughter, Gail, was born. During a period of 17 years, 1973-1990, PC and Jackie celebrated the arrival of five grandchildren who were the center of their world. PC passed away in 2003, after 51 beautiful years of marriage, and his death shook Jackie’s world in a terrible way. Despite her grief, Jackie was delighted to assume the role of great-grandmother of six in subsequent years. As matriarch of the family, she was always selfless and placed the wants and needs of her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren above her own.
Jackie completed her bachelor’s degree in elementary education at Troy University after her children were born. She then joined the faculty at Maude Saunders Elementary where she taught fourth grade for 33 years. She loved all her students and had a special place in her heart for those less fortunate. During her teaching years, Jackie served as president of the Walton County Education Association and was a member of Delta Kappa Gamma. She also enjoyed participating in Beta Sigma Phi and treasured the lifelong friendships developed. Jackie was on the board of the Walton County Council of Aging during its inaugural years and served in many capacities at First United Methodist Church, where she was a member for over 70 years. She was known to many in DeFuniak as an excellent cook, specializing in delicious chicken and dumplings.
Jackie was predeceased by her parents and her beloved husband, Perry Curtis.
She is survived by her son Allan Rutherford and wife Marian, and her daughter Gail Brock and husband Gordon. She is also survived by seven adored grandchildren Kerry Kathe and husband Jim, Nancy Baggs, Sharon Pies and husband Jeff, Bard Rutherford, William Brock and wife Katherine, Scott Merrifield and wife Kizzy, and Bobby Merrifield, and by seven cherished greatgrandchildren Taylor Baggs, Christian Baggs, Ansleigh Kathe, Jack Pies, George Pies, Karra Brock, and David Merrifield.
During the last decade, Jackie battled with dementia, but she was fortunate to have numerous unfaltering home assistants including Belinda Williams and Cherly Soles. After breaking her hip last year, she was blessed to be able to continue under their care at Chautauqua Springs Rehabilitation Center, and her team grew to include its devoted and professional staff, especially Josh, Robert, Jess, Jessica, Miranda, Annette, Joanie, Emily, Jean, and Bree. Jackie was also well cared for by the exceptional personnel at Gentiva Hospice including Dr. James Howell, Mary Lancaster, RN, and CNA Jessica Settles. Additionally, Dr. Tom Roberts and his nurse, Rikki Johnson, were supportive of her in every way possible. Her family extends heartfelt appreciation for the kindness and assistance everyone bestowed to Jackie.
Flowers are being accepted OR, in memory of Jackie, make a donation to your charity of choice.
Visitation is being held on Monday, September 18, 2023 - 1:00-2:00pm at First Methodist Church in DeFuniak Springs. Funeral service will begin at 2:00pm.