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Obituaries

Greensburg real-estate groundbreaker held to principles

| Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2009

Charlotte Rutter had a rule she always followed as a real estate agent: Never lie to a customer.

"She put people first and made sure no one would come back to say, 'You gave me a bad deal,' " said her daughter, Linda Rutter, a real estate agent from Greensburg who worked with her mother for 20 years. "She earned people's trust, and she was well-recognized and respected for her honesty."

Charlotte Rutter of Greensburg died Monday, Aug. 10, 2009, at Excela Health Westmoreland Hospital in Greensburg. She was 79.

Mrs. Rutter was born in Youngwood in 1930 to Owen and Emma Fisher. Her father worked as a railroad foreman, and her mother was a teacher.

Following her graduation from Greensburg High School in 1948, she attended Chatham College. During that time, she met her future husband, Thomas Rutter, at a bus stop in Greensburg.

He served in the Army, and they were married when he returned home after a medical discharge.

"They had only known each other for less than a year, and they went on to be married for just over 60 years," Linda Rutter said. "It was true love."

Mr. Rutter worked for his father's plastering business. To earn extra money during her husband's slow winter months, Mrs. Rutter began working in real estate in 1962.

"Back then, realty was a profession dominated by males, but my mother always said, 'If a man can do it, then why can't I?' " her daughter said. "And she was very good at it."

In 1967, she became the first female real estate broker in Westmoreland County, her children said.

The work came with gender-related obstacles, as in when she was denied a secretary position for a local board of Realtors.

A year later, once the all-male board came to realize how much she knew about real estate, they offered her the position, said her son Joe Rutter of Greensburg, a deputy sports editor with the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

"At first, she said 'no' out of principle, to show them they were wrong for not hiring her the first time," he said. "Once her point was made, she waited a while to accept. She always stood her ground for women's rights."

In 1969, Mrs. Rutter started Charlotte Rutter Realty in a building she shared with her husband's plastering business in the Kinderhook section of Greensburg.

Linda Rutter starting working for her mother's company in 1972, calling it "the best experience of my life."

Even after Mrs. Rutter retired in the early 1990s, people would still approach her and thank her for her generosity and honesty, Joe Rutter said.

"The nurse that took care of her during her final days said she bought a home from my mother in 1977," he said. "She wanted it as a starter home, but she loved it so much she never moved out. She never forgot her kindness."

In addition to her husband, Thomas, son Joe and daughter, Linda, Mrs. Rutter is survived by a son, Brad Rutter of Greensburg; two sisters, Florence Fisher of York and Elizabeth Seuffert of Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio; five grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.

She was preceded in death by three sisters, Frances Perry, Kathleen Ammon and Barbara Korzendorfer; and two brothers, Owen and Joseph Fisher.

Visitation will be from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday and 2 to 4 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m. Friday at the Kepple-Graft Funeral Home, 524 N. Main St., Greensburg, where a service is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Saturday.

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