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Rutledge medical legacy continues

Medical student Geoff Rutledge, left, and his father, Dr. Robb Rutledge, hold up a frame containing the photos of four generations of Rutledge doctors. Geoff will be adding his portrait to that montage when he graduates medical school in May. (Photo courtesy Robyn E. White/ University of Minnesota)

Even if you don't know a Rutledge, if you've been in the Detroit Lakes area for any period of time, you likely know the Rutledge name. The University of Minnesota Medical School could say the same thing.

Geoff Rutledge is a fourth-year medical student at the college, the fourth generation of the Rutledge family to earn his degree there. He will be a fifth generation doctor.

"It's like wearing blinders," Gerrie Rutledge jokes.

Gerrie was married to John, who was Geoff's grandfather. Gerrie and John's son, Robb -- Geoff's dad -- is also a doctor. And John's father, Lloyd, who also practiced in Detroit Lakes, was a doctor. Those four graduated from the University of Minnesota.

Lloyd's father, Wylie, was also a doctor, although not a graduate of the University of Minnesota.

Not to mention, Gerrie and John's daughter Nancy is a physical therapist, and Susie is a nurse. Health care runs deep in the family.

Gerrie said before her son mentioned that with Geoff's graduation from medical school it meant four generations at the medical school and five generations of doctors, "I had never even thought of that."

The tradition started when Lloyd came to the Detroit Lakes area in 1919 for a short time to fill in for another doctor taking a leave of absence. He planned to be in town one to three months.

"He met a cute girl by the name of Nancy and never left," Gerrie said.

Lloyd served in general practice medicine and surgery, from 1920 to 1970.

Then there was John, who was a general practice doctor as well.

Robb, who is in orthopedics, met his wife, Jane, at Hennepin County Medical Center, where she was a nurse. His son Geoff plans to specialize in general surgery.

Gerrie's father was also a doctor, so her children have the medical influence from both sides of the family.

Not all grandchildren are following in the Rutledge medical footprint, however. They have branched off into massage, architecture and more. But, "they're an active bunch of people," Gerrie said.

Gerrie has been providing historical information on the St. Mary's Innovis Center project of tearing down the old clinic and preparing for a new one. Her father-in-law, Lloyd, was instrumental in getting the clinic built years ago.

Lloyd died in 1974, and John died in 1983, so there haven't been Rutledge doctors in Detroit Lakes in 27 years -- but the name is still recognized.

"I still have people say, 'John saved my life,' or 'Lloyd saved my life.' It's kind of a nice thing to hear," Gerrie said.

The University of Minnesota Medical School Alumni Connections magazine did a feature on the Rutledge family for its Spring 2010 edition.

It can be viewed online at