Obituary for Russell Gutendorf Jr.
Russell Clinton "Rusty" Gutendorf Jr., known as “Rusty” by all who loved him, crossed over to his eternal home on October 6, 2016, at the age of 67 after a 17-month battle with brain cancer.
Russell Clinton Gutendorf Sr. and Margaret Eleanor Anderson, were divinely designed to become Rusty’s proud parents in 1949. Their first son, who is Rusty's namesake, passed on shortly after birth opening the door for our Rusty to carry on the family name. Andra Lee Gutendorf-Rice was born two years later and has been honored and grateful to be known as Rusty's little sister. Rusty and Andra Lee would both come to know Jesus as their personal Lord, Savior, and Friend in 1966, being baptized together in the Clackamas River that same year. During this time of spiritual awakening, God's divine hand knit Rusty's heart to many friends who would be with him in the end including Ron Parrish, Steve and Kathy Beadle, and Howard Neal just to name a few.
Russell Clinton Gutendorf Sr. would eventually marry Esther Schreiber-Fulgroat in 1955. From that marriage would come Rusty's devoted and faithful half-brother, Steve Gutendorf, who became Rusty's loving and patient care-giver during the last 17 months of his life. Mary Ann Fulgroat-Page is the step-sister who has survived Rusty; while Mike Fulgroat is the step-brother who preceded Rusty.
In addition to the immediate family, Rusty has numerous other family members who have looked up to him and received from his generous heart over these past 67 years. Harold Gorman is Rusty's dear cousin who has seen it all from beginning to end. Harold, Rusty, Steve, and Russ, Sr., were the four amigos who became known as the “Gee-Bee's” - Gutendorf and Gorman boys. For many years, they enjoyed regular golf tee times. The Original Hot Cake House on Powell was their gathering place on Saturday mornings, joined by Tommy Gorman, Chris Gutendorf, and the other family and friends who developed over those wonderful years. It was very precious to hear all the words of love and care from the Hot Cake House “family” after Rusty moved on to Heaven.
Patty Moody has been Rusty's dear friend since high school days. Rusty eagerly looked forward to Thanksgiving meals at her home, as well as attending the men and women's collegiate basketball games, and high school football games with Richard, Patty's husband, who was one of Rusty's best friends. The Moody's will forever be cherished members of Rusty's family. When Richard and Patty's daughter, Heather, was born, they entrusted Rusty with the honor of being Heather's God-Father. Rusty loved the fact that he had a God-daughter, and at the end of his time here on earth, Heather graciously and lovingly gave of her time in helping Steve and Janice Gutendorf with Rusty's care.
After graduating from Rex Putnam High School in 1968 where he excelled as a graphic artist, Rusty joined the U.S. Army, completing his boot camp at Ft. Lewis in Washington State. From there he would serve three tours with the Army in Vietnam from 1968 to 1971. It was in Vietnam that Rusty became part of the 557th Army Engineers as a heavy equipment operator. During this training time, Rusty had the adventure of clearing jungle with his bulldozer and removing trees with his crane for airstrip construction.
After his honorable discharge from the Army in 1971, Rusty would eventually be led to his life-long career as a Firefighter. The Clackamas Fire District #1 was his starting point in this exciting and endearing profession. It was during this time that he was fondly known as one of the “ClackoWacko's”. After several years with Clackamas Fire District #1 , Rusty's career path shifted to the Portland Fire Bureau when a merger took place between the two departments. During his years at Portland Fire, Rusty fought fires, rendered first aid, assisted in the emergency delivery of over 25 babies, and eventually drove the engines for Station 1 and then Station 5 from which he would eventually retire in 2002.
Words cannot describe the unique and amazing bond that happens in the firefighting family. These are the heroes who save lives on a daily basis and care for each other in the process…. truly a band of BROTHERS. It was not unusual for Rusty to work extra call shifts so a fellow firefighter who was married could have time off during a holiday. Or he would spend a weekend helping to repair a friend’s home or go crabbing with his buddies on the coast. Larry and Dan Hall, Joe Hall, Al Bell, Del Stevens, Mike Lael, Earl McCormick, Larry Horn, Doug Green are just a few of the brotherhood of firefighters who worked and socialized closely with Rusty.
Within this band of brothers there were the pranks which kept the quiet times at the firehouse upbeat. From hiding under the fire rigs and grabbing ankles as guys passed by, to super-gluing Rusty's flip-flops to the floor, and surprise attacks during the most suspenseful parts of the movie “Aliens”, the good times never stopped.
Joking around the dinner table was one way to debrief from the intensity of the job. Some of Rusty's favorite dinner table quotes were: “Bread is just the vehicle for the butter.”
“Ice cream is just the base for the chocolate.”
“Potatoes are the platform for the sour cream.”
“Coffee is just the vehicle for the Hazelnut Creamer!”
Rusty's adventures didn't stop at the fire station. For several years, Rusty would use his days off to drive truck for McFarland's, adding more names to the list of “family” members that encompassed Rusty's life.
Rusty's generous heart, love for food, and thrill for adventure flourished during his career as a fire fighter. In his later years, Rusty's loveable reputation helped to develop even more “family” at his regular restaurant hangouts. Hales, in Gladstone, served Rusty's favorite ham and cheese omelet with Swedish pancakes. Mike's Drive-in would be the place to go for halibut fish and chips topped off with a strawberry milkshake. The Original Pancake House in west Portland served Rusty's favorite potato pancakes with applesauce and lots of SOUR CREAM. Then there was Heidi's in Gresham, Biscuits in the Clackamas area, Ron's on 82nd, and the Bomber in Milwaukie. Whenever waitress's asked Rusty what he would like to eat, he would enthusiastically say, “Massive quantities...”
Immediate family members survived and loved by Rusty are: sister Andra Lee Rice of North Pole, Alaska; brother Steve Gutendorf of Milwaukie Oregon; and step-sister Mary Page of Eugene Oregon. Cousins: Gail Gutendorf of Sparks Nevada; Fred Gutendorf of Knoxville Tennessee; Harold Gorman of Beavercreek Oregon; and Pam Taylor of Seattle Washington. Several nieces, nephews, great nieces, and great nephews add to the family that loved, admired, and looked up to Rusty.
A celebration of life is planned for Rusty on March 20th, 2017, in Milwaukie Oregon at Peake Funeral Chapel 1925 SE Scott Street, at 11:00am. There will be a short break following the service, then we will meet at Willamette National Cemetery for the Honor Guard Ceremony at 3:00pm. Rusty's family wants to say thank you from the depth of our hearts to all of you who made Rusty’s life so rich and full of love. God's plans are so much higher than we can think or imagine, and YOU were part of God's divine plan for Rusty Clinton Gutendorf, Jr….. A man destined by God to save others and be blessed abundantly in the process. Amen and Amen!
Rusty's family suggests that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to YWAM (Youth With a Mission) who sponsors the missionary family that Rusty regularly supported. Checks can be made out to: “University of the Nations KONA” and mailed to UNK, 75-5851 Kuakini Hwy #256, Kailua-Kona, HI 96740.
Please include a note in your envelope, not on the check, including the account number 5418 and missionary name: Ezra Rice. A tax deductible receipt will be sent to your return address.
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