Have You Met?

Frequently, when people meet Rutt Bridges, they are inclined to do one of two things – thank him for being the driving force behind getting the Colorado Telemarketing No Call List passed and ask him the origins of his name.

“The name Rutt is actually on my birth certificate,” he says in a resonant baritone twinged with a southern drawl. “I grew up in Albeny, Georgia and my dad had a best friend named Jarrett. When they were kids, Jarrett’s mother would stand on the porch and call him for dinner by yelling Jar-rutt! Jar-rutt! So his nickname was Rutt and I guess my father liked it because that’s what he named me.”

In 2001, the Colorado General Assembly passed legislation that allows consumers to protect themselves from many unwanted telemarketing calls. “It was one of the toughest battles fought over at the legislature,” says Rutt. “We were able to get enough grassroots political pressure to get it passed.” By adding your telephone or fax number to a list (at http://www.coloradonocall.com/) telemarketers are no longer allowed to call you and if they do they are fined up to $2,000.

Rutt grew up in the South with two older sisters and started working for his father drilling water wells when he was just a kid. This was about the same time he discovered his love of building rockets and blowing them up. “I hunted and fished and worked a lot outdoors,” he says. “But I also built a lot of rockets, some five feet tall, filled with liquids and explosive chemicals and I loved to blow them up. It’s a miracle I never got hurt, although I did blow some pretty big holes in the ground,” he says.

After working for Chevron, then relocating to Denver in 1981, Rutt started a software company related to oil and gas exploration that he has since sold. “When I sold my software company I was fortunate to get more money than I could spend in my life and the real upshot is now figuring out how to do good with it,” he says. “I’m involved with a lot of philanthropic things.”

Rutt is the CEO of the Bighorn Center for Public Policy, a non-partisan think tank focused on quality of life issues for Colorado, and the Chairman of Quest International Management Company, a private venture capital fund. He is quick to note that Quest is not in any way related to QWEST, the telecom company.

When asked about his future plans, Rutt says, “I’m not really sure what the future holds for me. But I try to stay cognizant of the fact that life is a finite thing. And if there’s something you really want to do, then you’d better get on with it because you never know which day will be your last.”

Rutt, who is single, has two children, Jeff, 22, and Cody, 13. He lives in the historic Denver Dry Goods Company loft building built in 1913 and occupies the space that used to be the Tea Room Restaurant on the fifth floor.

Which social event is your favorite? DAM Uncorked - The Denver Art Museum Wine Tasting

What are your volunteer activities? Colorado Public Radio (past Chair), CU Foundation Board, Georgia Tech National Advisory Board, Past-president of the Society of Exploration Geophysicists, judging middle school science fairs.

(Miss Kitty on Gunsmoke). When I was six years old and had a bloody nose, she sat me on her lap and stopped the bleeding. She was the epitome of the saloonkeeper/madam with a heart of gold.

Who is your hero and why? Socrates because had the courage of his convictions, and realized that wisdom begins with the recognition of one's ignorance.

If your life were a movie, who would play your part? Bugs Bunny.

What one word describes you best? Intense.

What word would you like others to use to describe you? Compassionate.

What was your first job? At age 9, digging "mud pits" for my father's water well drilling rig.

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? Indecision.

What is the trait you most deplore in others? Lack of integrity.

What is your greatest indulgence? Truly great wines and stimulating travel.

What is your current state of mind? Introspective.

What do you consider your greatest achievement? My two sons Jeff and Cody (thanks, Barb), plus the Colorado Telemarketing No Call List.

What is your most treasured possession? My life experiences, and my friends.

What is your favorite journey? The month I spent in Bora Bora reading, snorkeling and doing little else.

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? When a parent loses A child to suicide, which happens almost once a week in Colorado. It makes our problems seem insignificant.

What do you most value in your friends? The ability to laugh at themselves, and at the absurdities of life.

Who are your favorite writers, favorite books? Somerset Maugham – The Razor's Edge, Thich Nhat Hanh - Living Buddha/Living Christ, Mark Twain- Letters form the Earth.

What is the best advice you have ever received? "When you're going through hell, keep going." Winston Churchill.

Which historical figure do you most identify with? Groucho Marx.

What is your favorite quote? "This moment is where we live. If we cannot embrace its joy and sorrow, we lose a piece of our life."