Sam A. Rutledge, 1936-2020

Sam Rutledge, a retired directing business representative of Woodworkers Local Lodge W12 in Klamath Falls, and one of the longest serving members of the Oregon AFL-CIO Executive Board, passed away in his sleep on Sept. 23. He was 84.

Sam Rutledge

Rutledge began his union career in Klamath Falls in 1957 after taking a job at Weyerhaeuser and joining Local 3-12 of the International Woodworkers of America (IWA). He worked as an edgerman, a sawyer and a heavy equipment operator. He was active in the union, serving as a job steward, chief steward, safety committee member, plant committee chairman, department committee member, and recording secretary. In 1985 he was elected as the full-time business representative for the union.

IWA merged with the International Association of Machinists (IAM) in 1994, creating Machinists District W24.

Rutledge was one of the longest serving members of the Oregon AFL-CIO Executive Board, holding office from 1981 until 1999, when he retired as first vice president. He also was president of the Southeastern Oregon Central Labor Council for 19 years. After retiring he stayed on as secretary-treasurer of the labor council for several years.

Outside the labor movement Rutledge served as a member of the board of directors of the Klamath County Fire District 1; as treasurer of the Klamath County Democratic Central Committee; and as a member of the Klamath County Juvenile Advisory Committee; and he was active in the Boy Scouts and other community organizations.

Samuel Albert Rutledge was born March 3, 1936, in Hufmac, Oklahoma. His family moved to Klamath Falls when he was five years old. He talked his way into the U.S. Army at age 16 and served in Germany for most of his three-year enlistment. After his honorable discharge he worked as a union baker in Baltimore, Maryland. He eventually found his way back to Klamath Falls, where he worked for Weyerhaeuser.

Rutledge and his wife, the former Shirley Spaulding, were married in 1963. She also was from Oklahoma, but grew up in Washington before moving to Klamath Falls, where they raised their three kids.

He is survived by his wife; son Allen, daughters Rolinda and Christine; six grandchildren; and six great grandkids. Per his request there will not be a service.

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