Rutledge was born in Teaneck, NJ to Thomas and Marguerite Rutledge. He attended Bergen Catholic High School and graduated Fairfield University in 1975.
He is survived by his wife, Susan; two sons, Tom and Michael; daughter-in-law Augustina; sister Kathy (Ron) VonFriken; many sisters- and brothers-in-law, nieces and nephews.
Rutledge joined Kohl & Madden in 1994 as national sales and marketing director. He became GM, Northeast Region for Sun Chemical in 1997, and director manufacturing operations for Sun Chemical - Kohl & Madden Division in 2002. He joined Superior Printing Ink in 2008 as national sales manager, and headed to United Mineral & Chemical Corporation in 2011, where he was manager of the Pigments Division.
Rutledge was a man who believed in serving his community, and within the ink industry, was president for the Metro New York Printing Ink Association (MNYPIA) since 2007.
Rutledge’s colleagues throughout the industry spoke of his decency and kindness.
Luigi Ribaudo of Sun Chemical worked with Rutledge back in 1994 at Kohl & Madden, and remained friends ever since.
“I had the pleasure of working with John since 1994 when I was with Kohl & Madden,” Ribaudo said. “John was not shy about telling things the way they were; good or bad, you always knew where you stood. Having said that, I never knew John to have a mean bone in his body nor did he ever have any ill will towards anyone. John was just a hard working guy wanting to make a difference. Family was very important to John and if you ever ran out of things to talk about, it wasn’t hard to have a conversation around family.”
“John has been a friend for at least 10 or so years,” said Dan Shevkun of Superior Printing Ink, who worked with Rutledge and serves as an MNYPIA board member. “John was a genuine nice, honorable and patriotic man. My relationship with him was mostly club related, but I always got the email honoring the armed services.”
Bruce Schimmel of Superior Materials also serves as a member of the MNYPIA board.
“It is really sad,” Schimmel said. “I knew John for 20 years. He was a really nice gentleman. One thing about John is that he never said a negative thing. He was always professional and always supporting the industry. You could tell he really loved the ink industry. He led the MNYPIA very well.”
“It was a real shock to hear that John passed away,” said Joe Mele of Polimeros Sinteticos, another MNYPIA board member. “I’ve known John for almost 20 years. He was a kind and considerate person who was always looking to help. His leadership of the MNYPIA kept the club alive. He was an asset wherever he worked including Kohl & Madden, Sun and Superior.”
Michael Brice of INX International Ink knew Rutledge for 20 years, particularly during their time together at the MNYPIA, and had the highest regard for him.
“John was a gentleman, a professional and a man of excellent character,” Brice said. “He maintained a calm, cool demeanor regardless of the situation. John’s integrity was never in question and I never heard him say a negative word about anyone. To say that there is a hole left in our industry is an understatement.”
“I had the privilege of meeting John very early in my ink making career,” added Doug Kuland of Sun Chemical. “I was just a rookie in QC, and yet John always treated me with respect. He always greeted me with a big handshake accompanied by a big smile and was always willing to provide advice and encouragement. He had great ideas and was forward thinking in his approach to issues. I consider him a mentor and a friend. He will be missed on so many levels.”
“Though I actually worked for John for a short while at Sun Chemical, anyone who worked for John can tell you what a good man he was,” added John Carlisle of Sun Chemical. “Fair, professional and pleasant are just a few ways to describe John. He held all employees in high regard. He will be very sadly missed, and his memories will be in our hearts. Our prayers go out to his family.”
Joanne Slevin of UMC worked with Rutledge for the past six years. She said that his death leaves “a huge hole here now that will be very difficult to fill.
“He was a great, great man,” Slevin noted. “And I think the word ‘great’ is so inadequate a word to use to describe John; he was so far above that. He took such pride in his work, had the kindest heart, and he was always willing to help anyone in the office with whatever they needed. His nickname in our office was ‘MacGyver’ because there was nothing he couldn’t fix or problem he couldn’t solve (and if there was anyone who could make a bomb out of a match and a stick of bubble gum, it was John J).
“One of his favorite sayings was ‘do it once, do it right,’ and he lived up to that,” Slevin added. “We were blessed to have him with us, for even a short period of time. I was so thankful to have known him and worked for him. I couldn’t ask for a better boss and friend. He will be greatly missed.”
“I consider myself fortunate to have known and worked with John Rutledge,” said Steven Miller of Sun Chemical. “For me and many others around him, John exhibited many of the characteristics and behaviors that so many of us aspire to. Managers that he worked for valued his strong work ethic, trustworthiness, intelligence and the vast knowledge and business experience that he effortlessly and generously shared throughout the organizations he worked for. Co-workers and peers would find John to be friendly, supportive and always ready to offer a kind word where it was needed. I never saw John say no to someone asking him for help.
“Even after we no longer worked for the same company, we would meet from time to time for dinner, and while we would obviously talk about the industry that we share, we would also talk about our families,” Miller added. “It was obvious when he would talk about them just how much John loved his family. When John would ask about my family, always remembering their names from past conversations, you could tell that he was genuinely interested and really listening to what I had to say. For me, John was a great co-worker but also a good friend and I will truly miss him. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family.”
A memorial service was celebrated at Nauraushaun Presbyterian Church. Donations are requested for the People to People Food Pantry in Nanuet, NY or United Hospice of Rockland in New City.