Charles Hamilton “Ham” Rutledge, 87, passed away Friday, May 26 at his home on Washington Island, WI.
Ham was born to Paul Edmund and Jean Louise (Hamilton) Rutledge on September 22, 1935, in Kirkwood, Missouri. He graduated from Thomas Jefferson School in St. Louis in 1953 and from Harvard University in 1957. Ham signed up for the first computer programming course offered at Harvard, ignoring his advisor’s recommendation to avoid it because computers were just a fad. The computer he used for the class has now been in the Smithsonian for over 60 years, and the class proved to be a launching point for a lengthy career, many future contributions as a volunteer, and ultimately his children’s careers (all of which are based in technology).
After graduation from Harvard, Ham moved to Findlay, OH to work for Marathon Oil Company (then known as The Ohio Oil Company) for 34 years. While there he was a lay reader at Trinity Episcopal Church and served as Assistant Scoutmaster for the church affiliated Scout Troop, 312.
Ham married Charlene “Chari” Mary Imig on February 24, 1962. His career with Marathon then took the family to Burghausen, West Germany for 5 years in the late 1960s, where he was on the team tasked with automating and computerizing the first oil refinery. Many of the systems and processes developed there were adopted and used by IBM for many years.
Upon their return to Findlay in 1971, he was on the YMCA board, serving one term as president, and he was on the boards of the Hancock County United Way and of the Domestic Violence Shelter. He also served twelve years as the chairman of the Hancock County Data Processing Board and was a member of the Findlay Elks Club. Ham and Chari were founding members of F.A.S.T. (Findlay Area Swim Team) for which he ran the first computerized swim meet long before software for that purpose was available to buy. They served as meet director and entry chairman for years.
In 1991 Ham and Chari moved to Plymouth, Wisconsin, where they built a hobby farm, kept horses, and participated in competitive carriage driving. In Plymouth Ham started his own contracting company, DOD Systems, was on the County Historical Board and they were members of the Sheboygan Yacht Club.
In 2004 Ham and Chari moved to Washington Island, Wisconsin, where they had vacationed for many, many years. Both families had summer homes there and had been going there since 1936 (Rutledges) and 1941 (Imigs). On the Island, Ham was active in the Island Players community theater, serving on the board and acting in 20 productions. He was on the board of the Art & Nature Center, serving two terms as president. He was a member of the Lions Club, serving on the board and two terms as president. He was also chairman of the Washington Island Music Festival for 12 years. During his long time living on Washington Island, Ham and his sister Joan were avid Green Bay Packer fans and watched almost every Packer’s game together. With relative certainty, Aaron Rodgers will be haunted by both for at least the coming season.
Ham was preceded in death by his parents; sisters, Anne (Gil) Truax of Punta Gorda, Florida and Joan (Clay, Jr.) Blair of Washington Island; and brother, Paul E Rutledge, Jr. (Susie) of Bradenton, Florida.
He is survived by his wife; three children, Charles, Jr. (Jolyn) Rutledge of Amesbury, Massachusetts, Andrew (Brit) Rutledge of Findlay, Ohio, and Carrie (Jeff) Storley of Sussex, Wisconsin; and five grandchildren, Allison, Ella and Adam of Amesbury and Max and Lily of Findlay.
Funeral services will be held at the Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church, 1763 Townline Road
Washington Island, WI 54246 on June 24, 2023, at 11:00 AM. Burial will be held privately.
Visitation will start at 10:00 AM with lunch following the funeral.
In lieu of flowers, donations in his memory can be made to the Washington Island Music Festival, P.O. Box 235 Washington Island, WI 54246, the Art and Nature Center 1799 Main Rd, Washington Island, WI 54246, or any other Washington Island charitable organization.
Casperson Funeral Home & Cremation Services of Sister Bay is assisting the family. Expressions of sympathy, memories, and photos of Ham may be shared with his family through his tribute page at www.caspersonfuneralhome.com.