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Developer Charles Rutenberg Dies at Eighty

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A Rutenberg home.

Charles Rutenberg invented and built the split-plan home named for him, other real estate, corporations and a brilliant legacy he leaves behind. His bread and butter was selling furniture and appliances in Chicago, until he decided to start developing homes on a whim. The St. Petersburg Times reports that Rutenberg’s whim began in 1951:

“One day we saw an ad in the paper saying lots in the Skycrest Development property near Gulf-to-Bay Boulevard were being auctioned off,” he recalled in 1970. “It was sort of a whim. We didn’t know anything about building houses, but we had the morning free, so we went to the auction. When we came out we found we had spent $7,000 and owned nine vacant lots.”

Rutenberg developed quite a few notable creations throughout the Florida Suncoast, including Countryside Mall, numerous homes with the famous Rutenberg design, Suncoast shopping centers and even some office buildings. He even once presided over more than a half-dozen corporations throughout Pinellas County, Fla. and contributed both time and money to many charitable organizations throughout the area.

Not many know or even find the success discovered and managed by Rutenberg, but it was both well-earned and highly deserved. Charles Rutenberg, who lived a long and fulfilling life, was 80 when he passed away Friday, Sept. 10, 2004. A funeral is planned for 1 p.m. today at Temple B’nai Israel at 1685 S. Belcher Road in Clearwater, Fla. Donations may be given in Rutenberg’s name, as reported by the St. Petersburg Times:

The family suggests donations in lieu of flowers to the Golda Meir Endowment Corp., c/o Golda Meir/Kent Jewish Center, 2010 Greenbriar Blvd., Clearwater, FL 33763.

Rutenberg was survived by a large, admiring family, according to the Times:

In addition to his wife of 57 years, he is survived by two sons, Alan, Knoxville, Tenn., and Marc, Palm Harbor; two daughters, Rabbi Laurie Rutenberg, Portland, Ore., and Eliana Tench, Jerusalem; two brothers, Arthur, Belleair Shore, and Daniel, Tampa; and 11 grandchildren.

Charlie Rutenberg was a truly great man, and he will be deeply missed by family, friends and real estate industry members who watched a man build both great real estate and a dream that will live long after its creator. May he rest in peace.

This post is also posted at Hundred Acres, the world’s first real estate community weblog.

Related News:

St. Petersburg Times: Home builder shaped bay area

-John Mudd
“Mr. Real Estate”

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