Saginaw man leaves $2.7 million to city police, fire and American Red Cross

The Saginaw Police Department
The Saginaw Police Department(source: WJRT)
Published: Sep. 11, 2020 at 6:34 PM EDT
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SAGINAW, Mich. (WJRT) - $1.8 million dollars is a lot of money.

That’s how much Saginaw’s public safety departments are getting from a man who recently passed away.

Gerald Rutledge was 84 years old when he died in April.

His name has come up in a recent news story. We will get to that in just a bit.

But for now, his generosity is taking center stage.

“He had a guardianship, through the public guardian’s office, and they let us know when he passed away, and it was our job to clean out the house and get it sold as part of the estate,” says Jim Thomas.

Thomas is an elder law attorney with the law office of Carol Thomas and handled the estate of Gerald Rutledge, who lived in a modest west side Saginaw home until he passed away in April. Rutledge had dementia. He died with a lot of money.

“I believe an hourly employee at GM, and he didn’t have any children or anything like that, and didn’t seem to spend a lot of money, just accumulated that through his life,” says Thomas.

Thomas says Rutledge is leaving $2.7 million-dollars to three entities.

“The three different charities the money is going to, the American Red Cross-Saginaw Chapter, the Saginaw Police Department and the Saginaw Fire Department,” Thomas says.

$900-thousand will go to the police department and another $900-thousand will go to the fire department. The two department’s budgets for the next fiscal year shows the significance of the gifts, the $900-thousand is more than ten percent of the fire budget. Thomas says his mother Carol remembers why Rutledge, who made the will in 2006, wanted to leave so much money to public safety.

“She recalls, she thinks his dad my have been either part of the fire department, or part of the police department,” Thomas says.

Thomas says the gifts should be delivered to the three entities in the next month or two.

“We’ve had clients leave a few thousand dollars here and there, something like that, but not this amount,” he says

I spoke with or texted some city officials today about the money, but they were not completely aware of the gifts and they did not want to comment at this time.

News of the gifts to the three entities happens as Rutledge’s home became the center of a cold case missing persons investigation.

Michigan State Police believe Rutledge’s garage was used to store a car that has been missing from the Bridgeport area. The car, and its owner, Eric Franks vanished in March 2011. The car was found in Clare on Tuesday. It had been purchased by a man in an estate sale held after Rutledge died. The car is now at the MSP Crime Lab.

Police do not believe Rutledge had knowledge that the car was in his garage.

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