Jean Rutherford

by | Feb 13, 2020 | Obituaries

Virginia Beach—Jean Rutherford died on January 26, 2020, after a nine-year journey with frontotemporal dementia.

Jean had an abundant, loving, and playful heart. An avid gardener and nature lover, Jean savored sitting on her screened porch overlooking the Elizabeth River while visiting with family, friends, and her beloved grandchildren.

Born on December 7, 1936, in Washington D.C. to Esther and Charles Phipard, Jean came into the world to a flock of doting aunts and grandparents who instilled in her a deep sense of family and community. She graduated from Falls Church High and later Mary Washington with a BA in Music. Jean played both the cello and the piano. After marrying Palmer Rutherford, Jr, she taught public school music and gave private piano lessons.

Jean’s truest vocational calling came as director for Christian Formation for the Diocese of Southern Virginia. She helped pioneer the Shrinemont Christian Formation Conference as well as an innovative training program for lay and clergy leaders. Certified as a Spiritual Director, she cherished hours spent unpacking the treasures hidden in life’s challenges. Jean was passionate about social justice in her work with: Camp Wakonda for families affected by HIV/AIDS; JUST FAITH, an interfaith justice group; Witness for Peace delegation to Nicaragua and Honduras; and board member and president for Empower Hampton Roads.
The family would like to thank Beth Sholom Home for their excellent care.

Her brother Jon having pre-deceased her, Jean leaves her children: Palmer Rutherford III (Laine), Anne Zobel (Dave), Kelly Rutherford (Claudia), and grandchildren: Chelsea (Dan), Raven, John, Matthew, Marshall, Colton, Gustavo, and Julianna.

Donations can be made to Chanco on the James, Memo: Jean Rutherford Memorial Fund. Address: 394 Floods Drive, Spring Grove, VA 23881 or online: