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A&M-Texarkana at NTCC and College of Business Dedicate Bench in Memory of Johnny Rutledge

Published: July 21, 2017

The Rutledge Family

Family members attend a memorial bench dedication ceremony in remembrance of Johnny Rutledge Friday at A&M-Texarkana at Northeast Texas Community College. Pictured (from left) are Johnny Rutledge’s brother, Timothy Rutledge; wife, Shari Rutledge; mother, Juanita Rutledge; granddaughter, Makayla Rutledge; father, John Rutledge; and nephew, Isaiah Thompson.

The Texas A&M University-Texarkana College of Business and A&M-Texarkana at Northeast Texas Community College on Friday remembered and celebrated the life of NTCC graduate and A&M-Texarkana business student Johnny Rutledge by placing a memorial bench in his honor near the A&M-Texarkana offices at the University Health Sciences Center on the NTCC campus.

“It was an honor to have had Johnny as one of our College of Business students, and it is an honor for the College of Business to sponsor this very special memorial for Johnny,” said Dr. Gary Stading, dean of the College of Business at A&M-Texarkana. “Johnny loved life, and he appreciated this chance to pursue his education. This bench represents an appropriate memorial because he was always in favor of stopping briefly, taking a break from the rat race, and breathing deeply to count his blessings. He would want people to sit on this bench and similarly to appreciate life and the beauty of NTCC’s campus. We sincerely hope that Johnny’s spirit will live on through the dedication of this memorial.”

Johnny Ray Rutledge was born January 8, 1961, in Dallas, Texas. Early on, he set his academic standards high. He attended Lamar Elementary School in Grand Prairie, Texas. At the age of 12, his family moved to the Argo community in Titus County where he attended the Argo community school in sixth and seventh grade. He then transferred to the Mount Pleasant school system where he attended P.E. Wallace Middle School and Mount Pleasant High School.

During high school, Johnny continued to excel academically. He also enjoyed playing football and participating in track events. He often placed in shot put and discus during his meets. Johnny also thrived in FFA. He was an active member throughout his high school years, participating in various activities and serving as an officer at the local and state levels. After graduation, he set his roots in the Titus County area where he married, worked and raised his children.

Johnny loved working with wood, small engines, and other craft and mechanical items. He also enjoyed camping, fishing and spending time with his family. He attended Northeast Texas Community College as a nontraditional student, where he graduated with an associate degree. He excitedly began the next phase of his education and was thrilled that he would be completing it through the A&M System. Unfortunately he was not able to complete his degree, as he died suddenly on January 19, 2016, in Tyler, Texas.

Johnny is survived by his wife of 36 years, Shari Thomas Rutledge. He is also survived by son, Jacob, and wife, Crystal, and his son, Joshua Rutledge. Johnny loved spending his time with his family surrounded by his four grandsons -- Austin, David, Maliki and Gabrial -- and his two granddaughters – Mackenzie and Makayla.

Johnny is also survived by his parents, John and Juanita Rutledge of Argo; his brother, Timothy Rutledge and wife, Judy, of Argo; his sister, Sandra Windon and husband, Blane, from Traverse City, Michigan; numerous nieces and nephews.

“I am so pleased that my brother has been honored in such a way,” said Sandra Windon. “I know if Johnny were to look down he would smile and say ‘Sis, look at that. Can you believe they did that for me?’ Thank you A&M-Texarkana and Dr. Stading for the beautiful bench in Johnny’s honor.”

“We are very thankful that we are able to honor Mr. Rutledge's life and share with his family, friends and the community at Texas A&M University-Texarkana at Northeast Texas Community College,” said Kelly Coke, director of programs at A&M-Texarkana at NTCC. “I only knew Mr. Rutledge for a short time, but his persistence to never give up on a dream no matter your age or station in life is a wonderful reminder to us all that the American Dream is possible through sweat, tears and pain. He was a living example that with hard work and dedication that accomplishing any goal - as his was to earn a bachelor's degree - is possible with grit and determination. We hope this bench in honor of Mr. Rutledge is a reminder to our students and prospective students that walk through our doors of Mr. Rutledge's legacy.”

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