Airplanes and old cars fascinated Red Rutherford. He could talk about them for hours and had pictures to boot.
He knew how to tell a story, how not to telegraph a punch line and how to surprise you with a clever ending you should have seen coming. Other times his stories could be just terrible groaners.
Funny. Friendly. Frank. Generous.
That was Victor "Red" Rutherford, who died Thursday at Hospice at the Chaplaincy at 86.
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His generosity certainly was of the monetary kind, but it was so very much more than that.
In his 80s, Rutherford still had to plan his appointments around his Meals on Wheels schedule. He might skip some things, but he would not let anything get in the way of those deliveries of food to people more needy than he. This continued even into the time when he was dealing with cancer himself.
It was said that Red could accomplish more sitting at a Kennewick Kiwanis Club lunch at Leo's than most folks could get done working all week long.
He was called "Red," but aside from a ruddy complexion, any explanation for that nickname was long since gone.
When radiation started coloring the top of his head he took to wearing a cap for a while but soon gave that up, too.
We said he was generous with himself, but he was just as generous with his money. His gifts were legion. He was well-known as an open-handed man when others needed help.
In fact, at the $5 prize drawings, two each week at his club, the "lucky" winners always called out "Give it to Red," who then would deposit the $10 in whichever charity campaign seemed to need the most help at the time.
His interests and impact on the community were huge. From the Tri-Cities Cancer Center to the Kennewick Police Department, from Special Olympics to the Benton-Franklin County Fair, he was deeply, actively and enthusiastically involved.
He was named Kennewick's Man of the Year in 1996 and Tri-Citian of the Year in 2002.
One dream he and his wife Sally had never came completely to fruition. That was the idea of getting an old car museum for Kennewick.
He had a passion about this, but things just never came together. He asked someone who knew about grants to try to raise $1 million for a facility to display antique cars.
"I can get the cars," he said. "I just don't have anyplace to put them."
The grant writer exhausted first the collection at the Mid-Columbia Library for ideas, then went to Spokane to try that library, too. He could find no money for such a purpose. He suggested Red's best hope was to contact Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash., which Red then did.
Budgets, opposition to earmarks and tight money got in the way, and Red never got his museum.
Old Fords, Packards, Auburns, Dodges, Stars, Franklins, Reos, Bantams, Willys, Chevys and DeSotos made up only a partial list of old cars whose owners, members of Ye Olde Car Club of Washington, agreed to rotate through the museum if Red could get it built.
Even now, years later, if anyone has a good idea for how to get Red Rutherford's old car museum built, we'd really like to hear about it.
Viewing will be from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. today at Mueller's Chapel of the Falls in Kennewick, with Rosary to be recited starting at 6 p.m.
Services will be held 11 a.m. Wednesday in the new building at St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Kennewick.