Millicent Alexander Rutherford died on October 27 at her home in San Francisco. She was 91. Born January 21, 1926, in Brooklyn, N.Y., Millicent attended John Adams High School in Queens and several undergraduate colleges, eventually earning a PhD from Stanford in 1977 in education.
She was a vocal advocate for women’s rights and wrote a dissertation titled “Feminism and the Secondary School Curriculum, 1890-1920.”
While pursuing her own higher education, Millicent raised three children and taught humanities at Lynbrook High School in San Jose. One secret of her ability to hold her classes’ attention, she said, was wearing stockings of slightly different hues, which kept all eyes on her as students struggled to figure out whether her legs matched or not.
Throughout her life, Millicent supported social-justice organizations, in particular the ACLU and the Unitarian church. She will be remembered for her glittering sense of style, her sharp wit, and her boundless energy.
Millicent was married for nearly seven decades to John Rutherford, who died three years ago. She is survived by their three children, Francis Rutherford (Carolyn Steinbuck), Megan Rutherford (Alfred Graham), and Ethan Rutherford; six grandchildren; and four great-granddaughters.
A memorial service will be held at the First Unitarian Church, 1187 Franklin Street, San Francisco, on Sunday, January 7, at 1 p.m.
Donations in Millicent’s memory may be made to the First Unitarian Universalist Society of San Francisco or the ACLU.