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Elizabeth Rutherford Piscitello

Elizabeth ‘Liz’ Rutherford Piscitello, 89, died in Modesto after many months of failing health.

She was born in Oakland to Lawrence and Lucy Watson. After losing her father to pneumonia in 1928, she and her sister, Marilou, moved with their mother to Martinez.

She attended elementary schools in Martinez, but attended junior and senior high school in Berkeley. She attended University of California at Davis until it was closed to become a military camp.

With the outbreak of war, she worked in the East Bay Area until marrying her college beau, Alfred Edward ‘Sam’ Rutherford on Nov. 4, 1944. She and her husband had three children, James, Robert, and Deborah and lived both in Oakdale and Valley Home during which time her husband was an Agriculture teacher at Oakdale High School from 1950 – 1972.

Mrs. Rutherford Piscitello took every chemistry course offered at Modesto Junior College. She began an exciting career at Shell Development and Research in Salida as a researcher and lab assistant in the plant pathology lab.

She dreamed of becoming a travel agent, so after the death of her husband in 1972, she began organizing trips for groups. One of the first was a journey to New Zealand and one of the members on the tour was a friend from Oakdale, Carl Piscitello. They renewed their friendship and they married Jan. 1, 1982.

After selling the Rutherford farm in Valley Home, she and Carl moved to Turlock and enjoyed many years of traveling the world over. She spent 25 years researching her family origin and published a genealogy book which received a Library of Congress number.

She never met a stranger and opened her home to many traveling agriculture students from England. If asked for a favorite food, she would most definitely say dark chocolate, with Dungeness crab coming in second. She encouraged her children and grandchildren to explore all things, ask questions, and never turn down an adventure. Her legacy will live on through her family and friends. She was loved and will be missed.

Per her request, her daughter will continue her family history by including one more chapter called: Epilogue – A Farewell to Liz. This will become a multi-perspective portrait of a wonderful woman.

She is survived by her husband, Carl; children, James, Robert (Marti), Deborah (Terry); sister, Marilou Staples; grandchildren, Tiffany, Shanna, Alicia, Ian, and Erik Rutherford, Kristopher (Amanda) and Jonathan (Rikki) Stenson; great-granddaughter, Anabel Marie; Carl’s children, Richard (Linda), Judie (Jim) Schlichtmann, Jim; and many Piscitello grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

In place of a formal service, anyone who would like to write a memory may e-mail it to Debbie Lane at

Remembrances may be made to The Gallo Center for the Arts

The Oakdale (Calif.) Leader

April 4, 2013