PORTSMOUTH — The church family of Living Faith Temple (LFT), as well as a large crowd of community members gathered at the 14th Street Community Center to celebrate the 103rd birthday of long-time Portsmouth resident, Frances Rutherford, affectionately known as, ‘Mother Rutherford.’
The gymnasium was nicely adorned with decorations in Rutherford’s favorite color, which is purple. Many people came out to celebrate the special occasion, Rutherford. The celebration was coordinated by Evangeline Parker, also a member of LFT. A host of Rutherford’s family members also traveled to the celebration to show their support as well.
“Her party was thrown by her church, Living Faith Temple. I think it was a pretty good success,” Parker said. “We were expecting about 135 people, and I believe the kitchen help counted about 125 people that were there. I think that it meant the world to Mother Rutherford. We have always given her a party every year since she’s turned 100, but we don’t do a big one every year. Some times we go down to the place where she resides in the basement and have it there.”
Among the guests were Rutherford’s family from Cleveland, who made the trip to show their love for her.
“This time I think it meant even more to her, because her family from Cleveland came in, her son, her daughter in law and her grandchildren all came in,” Parker said. “She just cried when they came in, she was so overjoyed.”
Elder Vincent L. Kennedy, Jr., Pastor of LFT, and Rutherford’s Pastor, she is a jewel in the local community.
“Mother Rutherford had always been an example of a God fearing woman to our entire community. God has blessed her with not just 103 years of life but the quality of life that she has lived is amazing,” Kennedy said. “She still has a sharp mind and up until she fell a few years ago you would see her walking all over town, post office, grocery store, etc. and this was in her 90s! It was such a joy to see the smile on her face at the celebration, her son and family, along with other family and friends were able to make it from all around the country and that was a pleasant surprise for her. She is truly a jewel in our community.”
Elder Ralph Clay of Christ’s Community Church, and lifetime friend of Rutherford, was the master of ceremonies. Guests enjoyed the singing of special selections by Clay, Overseer David Malone, Elder Etta Reeves, and Elder Randal Lewis. The celebration also included praise and mime dancing performed by Minister Lynda McGinnis, and sister Charis Davis.
As members of LFT moved about the gymnasium dressed in matching purple and yellow t-shirts, serving a meal prepared for each guest to enjoy. Marilyn Clay, a member of LFT, coordinated the meal and directed the kitchen help for the party.
During the course of the event, guests also had the opportunity to view a Power Point presentation of an array of photographs which captivated memorable times in Rutherford’s life.
The celebration was concluded with what seemed to be an endless line of guests greeting Rutherford. There were smiles, hugs, and laughter as individuals greeted her, expressing their love and appreciation to Rutherford, and making it known just how much she means to the community.