published Friday, April 4th, 2014

Joey Rutherford, motorcyclist killed in Hixson crash, recalled as family man

The details of Sunday's fatal motorcycle wreck on Hixson Pike near the entrance to Northgate Mall are still emerging as a police investigation continues.

But friends and family of Joey Rutherford, who died in the accident at age 29, say he was an experienced thrill seeker who knew how to ride a motorcycle even though he had only recently acquired his own.

They also remembered the father of three boys and longtime volunteer firefighter as a man who cherished his family and was a friend to everybody he knew.

"He'd have done anything for his kids," Joey's older brother Richard Rutherford said at the visitation service Wednesday in Soddy-Daisy. "It was all about his family. He would do anything to keep them under a roof, power on and that stuff. He was my younger brother, but he was my hero."

Joey Rutherford spent more than half of his life as a firefighter for the Lone Oak Volunteer Fire Department on Taft Highway, starting as a junior firefighter when he was 11. He worked at Invista along with Josh Partin, the Lone Oak fire chief who served as a pallbearer at Thursday's funeral ceremony.

"He was a family man," Partin said. "Family first, and he'd been in the fire hall 18 years. Can't replace him. I know that."

Partin said Joey's oldest son, 10-year-old Noah Rutherford, decided earlier this week to help his father's legacy at the fire department live on.

Just as his father did as a boy, Noah is joining the fire department as a junior firefighter.

"His daddy was his hero," Richard Rutherford said. "He loves his daddy."

Richard said that as boys, he, Joey and their brother Chris grew up riding ATVs and dirt bikes on their family's Signal Mountain property.

"He was an adrenaline junkie," Richard said. "He would drive anything, ride anything, anything he could do to get that rush. That's the way he was."

A benefit has been established for Joey Rutherford's three sons. Donations can be made at any SunTrust Bank branch.

Contact staff writer David Cobb at dcobb@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6731.

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