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J. T. Rutherford (May 30, 1921 – November 6, 2006), was a Democratic United States Congressional Representative and state legislator from the state of Texas.

J. T. Rutherford
J. T. Rutherford.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Texas's 16th district
In office
January 3, 1955 – January 3, 1963
Preceded byKenneth M. Regan
Succeeded byEd Foreman
Texas Senate, District 29
In office
Preceded byHill D. Hudson
Succeeded byFrank Owen, III
Texas State Representative from District 88 (Ector County)
In office
Preceded byGeorge W. Elliott
Succeeded byElbert Reeves
Personal details
Born(1921-05-30)May 30, 1921
Hot Springs
Garland County
Arkansas, USA
DiedNovember 6, 2006(2006-11-06) (aged 85)
Arlington, Virginia
Political partyDemocratic Party
Spouse(s)Sara Jane Armstrong Rutherford (married 1948)
ChildrenCleo Ann Rutherford
Charles Lane Rutherford
Jane Ellen Rutherford
ResidenceOdessa, Texas Arlington County, Virginia
Alma materAngelo State University

Sul Ross State University

Baylor Law School
Military service
Branch/serviceUnited States Marine Corps
RankAmphibian vehicle crewman
Battles/warsD-Day and Pacific Theater of Operations of World War II


He was born to James Thaddeus Rutherford and the former Allee Lillian Johnson in Hot Springs, Arkansas.[1] In 1934, his family relocated to Odessa, Texas, where he attended public schools. He served as an enlisted man in the United States Marine Corps from 1942 to 1946, of which twenty-eight months were spent overseas. He was awarded the Purple Heart. As an assault amphibian vehicle crewman, he landed in the first waves on D-Day at Tarawa, Saipan, where he was wounded, and Tinian. He retired as a major in the United States Marine Corps Reserve.

From 1946 to 1947, Rutherford studied at San Angelo College in San Angelo. He then transferred to Sul Ross State College in Alpine, which he attended from 1947 to 1948. From 1948 to 1950, he attended Baylor Law School in Waco, Texas.

In 1948, Rutherford married the former Sara Jane Armstrong, and the couple had three children, Cleo Ann, Charles Lane Rutherford, and Jane Ellen.[1] Rutherford was a partner in an industrial electrical construction firm and also owned an advertising business.

Rutherford served in the Texas House of Representatives from 1948 to 1952 and the Texas State Senate from 1953 to 1954. He was elected to the 84th to 87th United States Congresses from January 3, 1955, to January 3, 1963. An unsuccessful candidate for re-election in 1962 to the 88th United States Congress, Rutherford was unseated by Republican Ed Foreman of Odessa, later of Dallas. His loss to Foreman was attributed to the Billie Sol Estes scandal. He missed only one floor vote of the several thousand cast while he was a representative.

He was one of the majority of the Texan delegation to decline to sign the 1956 Southern Manifesto opposing the desegregation of public schools ordered by the Supreme Court in Brown v. Board of Education.

He was the first chairman of the House Subcommittee on National Parks. He was awarded the U.S. Department of Interior's Conservation Service Award in 1962 for his efforts to spearhead conservation legislation including laws that created a new national seashore on Padre Island, Cape Cod National Seashore, and Point Reyes in California.

Rutherford's district was the old jumbo 16th district, Midland being its eastmost point and El Paso at its westmost. It also stretched hundreds of miles along the border with Mexico. The 19 counties it embraced covered 42,067 square miles—making it geographically larger than Ohio or Tennessee, among others.

After leaving Congress, he formed J. T. Rutherford and Associates, a government relations consulting firm. He was a director of the Gonzales Warm Springs Foundation for Crippled Children, which was established in 1943 in Gonzales County, Texas. He was also a Shriner, another group which promotes the welfare of crippled children.[1]

Rutherford died of complications of Alzheimer's disease in Arlington, Virginia, where he spent his later years.


  1. ^ a b c "J. T. Rutherford," Who's Who in America, Vol 31 (1960-1961), (Chicago: Marquis Who's Who, 1960), p. 2504
  • United States Congress. "J. T. Rutherford (id: R000547)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.

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