John Gotleib Rutz, 97

John Gotleib Rutz, 97, of Lincoln, Nebraska passed away Sunday, October 13, 2013 in Lincoln, surrounded by family. His funeral services will be held at 10:30 a.m., Friday, October 18, 2013 at the Jolliffe Funeral Home in Scottsbluff, with Rev. Ron Nuss-Warren officiating. Interment will follow at Fairview Cemetery in Scottsbluff with Military Rites rendered by the Nebraska National Guard. Friends who wish may visit at the funeral Home Thursday from 5:00 p.m. until 7:00 p.m. His obituary may be viewed online at

John was a long time resident of Scottsbluff until 2005. He moved to Lincoln in 2005 for rehabilitation after being in a critical car accident in Nevada. Following rehabilitation, he moved to Legacy Estates in Lincoln and was cared for by his niece, Linda Robinson Rutz and her family until his death on Sunday.

John was born to Mary Elizabeth and Henry Rutz in Kersey, Colorado April 2, 1916. John was the youngest of 10 children, and was affectionately known as "Babe" by his immediate family. He graduated from Scottsbluff High School in 1934 and was an outstanding athlete lettering in football and track.

He was an entrepreneur at heart, starting his first business right after high school graduation. In 1936 he and brother, Herb, started the Lincoln Cab Co. and Rutz Brothers Standard Oil Service. In 1940, he decided to pursue higher education, and attended the University of Oregon earning a BA degree in accounting. Oregon is where he met and married the love of his live, Velma Irene Timmons.

John took a leave from the business world to join the Air National Guard serving for 4 and a half years and attaining the rank of major.
After his military service he and Velma returned to Scottsbluff in 1947 where he continued to work at the Lincoln Cab Company. He started Star Bus Lines and was a charter service for Continental Trailways. Not being busy enough, he became a licensee for Hertz Rental Car. In 1952, he and Velma founded Oregon Trail Travel Agency, where they worked together until they retired in 1989 and sold the business. John and Velma were well-known for their Nebraska Football tours, Theatre tours and their "Fun Time" Tours by air/land/sea! They were ahead of their time planning and hosting guided tours to countries all over the world.

John was active in the travel industry with membership and leadership roles in the International Airlines Transportation Association (IATA), American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) and the Colorado Travel Association, and Cruise Ship International Association (CSIA).
He also believed it was important to give back to the Scottsbluff community. He served as President of the Scottsbluff Chamber of Commerce, served two terms on the Scottsbluff City Council, served as Director of the Platte Valley Federal Savings and Loan for 17 years, and also served as chair of the board.

John was a long time member and officer of the local Lions Club and served as District governor in Nebraska in 1939. He and Velma were members of the Scottsbluff Presbyterian Church where John served as a deacon and elder.

John and Velma were benefactors for many community projects over the years, including the YMCA Capital Campaigns, the YMCA Building Funds, The United Way, and they were major contributors to the Centennial Park Project.

They purchased a second home in Rancho Mirage CA, where they wintered until Velma's death in 2004.

John was preceded in death by his wife, Velma, four brothers and five sisters. He is survived by three generations of nieces and nephews and their families across the country. Uncle John will be missed by all. He embraced life to the fullest and his legacy will live on through the lives he touched during his 97 years with us.

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