Lynn Rutstein: 100
By Deb Silverthorn
Lynn Rutstein says she doesn’t feel old, look old or act old. “Age is just a number… mine is a really big number, but it’s just a number.”
Known for her wider-than-Texas smile, Rutstein, born Evelyn in Chicago, was the daughter of Rose and Paul Silverman and sister of Jim, all of blessed memory. “We lived in a one bedroomwith a sleeping porch and a daybed in the living room,” she said, remembering that her Grandpa Sam lived with the family. “Being close was never anything but good.”
After secretarial school, Lynn worked at the Stewart-Warner Instrument Corporation, where she met and fell in love with Melvin, of blessed memory. She always called him by his endearment, “Honey.” It sounded a lot better than Melvin, she quipped. “He was ‘Honey,’ and I was ‘Love.’”
After they married in 1945, the couple moved to Dayton, Ohio, where Melvin spent 30 years as an aeronautical engineer at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. The couple, married for 57 years when he passed away in 2002, had two daughters, Debby (Rick) Baum and Laurel Rutstein, grandsons Alex (Leslie) and Matt (Samantha) Baum and great-grandchildren Caleb, Ryan and Tyler Baum.
Unable to see one another in person since late February, the family connects online and that’s how they celebrated their matriarch’s century-marking day. Describing her Zoom party, which featured accordionist Mike Frankel, has Rutstein’s eyes literally twinkling through the FaceTime interview with the Texas Jewish Post.
“It was lovely to see everybody, I love them so much, and Mike — well, he always plays on my birthday; he’s lovely,” Lynn said.
Both of her daughters remember their mother’s kitchen and its wonderful home-baked breads and desserts. Their parents were the entertainers extraordinaire with theme parties, dinners and celebrations.
“We’d wear costumes, and our guests had to wear costumes, and it was a lot of fun,” said Rutstein, who entertained and led sing-alongs on the piano while her husband created audio reel-to-reel entertainment.
“I have a folder of Mom’s recipes; she always had a knack for finding the next great recipe and she’d create it,” said Laurel Rutstein. “She and her girlfriends had mah jongg and canasta parties. They were vivacious and sociable; they were the ladies of the ’50s and ’60s and they would ‘hostess with the mostest.’”
In 1979, once Melvin retired, the couple moved to Sun City, Arizona. She wanted the beach, he wanted the desert, and he bribed her with the promise of summer getaways, traveling around the country by camper.
“The minute she could go out, she was packed and ready and they took great trips,” said daughter Debby Baum. “They’d take our boys to Colorado, to Canada — we wouldn’t see them for three weeks and they had the best times together.”
When Melvin died in 2002, Lynn, living in Phoenix, moved to Dallas to be closer to Baum and the rest of the family. — first to the Bonaventure and then, 12 years ago, to The Legacy at Willow Bend Laurel also moved to Dallas.
“It’s perfectly lovely here,” Rutstein said. “The best part of being 100 is not doing the housekeeping anymore, and I appreciate that a lot. The real gift, to me and my kids, is I have a beautiful place to live and be cared for and the chance to be close together.”