New Community Builders: Leo and Alice Rutten

Providing a Hand Up for Hardworking People in Need

August 3, 2022

Leo and Alice Rutten shared a generous spirit and a deep commitment to hard work.

Growing up in Detroit, Leo and Alice early in life learned the importance of a strong work ethic. Leo lived in a house too small for his family, so he slept in the attic - sometimes waking up with snow in his hair. Alice, soon after graduating high school early at age 14, was forced to go to work and support herself.

They met at Fisher Body Company where Leo worked as an accountant and Alice - the smart, friendly front desk receptionist - frequently filled in for absent co-workers to earn overtime. They married in 1949 and seven years later, Alice launched a career in real estate sales, which she considered an opportunity to earn more money and succeed in a male­dominated business world.

Alice's big break came when she sold a property for one of the Fisher brothers, who then referred her to the president of Chrysler Corporation. Soon Alice's keen business skills made her a go-to real estate pro for the automotive industry, serving as a relocation specialist for Chrysler, General Motors and Ford.

Alice kept selling and investing in real estate until age 78, long after Leo retired from General Motors and the couple moved -first part-time and then full-time - from Michigan to Broward. They made many friends in Lauderdale-By-The-Sea who caught glimpses of the normally frugal couple's deep generosity for hardworking people. Over-tipping waitresses, giving a car to their gardener, helping a therapist buy a house ... quietly through the years, Alice and Leo helped people willing to work for success.

When Leo died in 2011, Alice turned to the Community Foundation of Broward to help her create ongoing support for the hardworking people that she and Leo liked to encourage. Alice was introduced to the Community Foundation's expert team, who impressed her with a work ethic she recognized. With the Foundation's proven track record, Alice knew the money she and Leo worked so hard for would be put to good use - helping other people willing to work hard for success.

After Alice died in 2021, an estate gift established the endowed Leo M. and Alice J. Rutten Fund. With the Community Foundation as their partner, Leo and Alice will always be there to provide a hand up for hardworking people in need.

“Work ethic was key to Alice and Leo. People who worked hard and needed some help were important to them. Alice and Leo would go out of their way to help.” – Philip Laux, close friend and executor of Alice’s estate
Leo and Alice Rutten are new Community Builders for the Community Foundation of Broward.

More About Our Community Builders

Community Builders are BOLD leaders who partner with the Community Foundation to establish endowed charitable Funds of $1 million or more to shape a brighter future for the community they love.

Through the power of endowment, the gifts from these individuals, families and local organizations fuel innovation and tackle Broward’s biggest issues today and forever.

Click here to learn more about all of our Community Builders.

How To Become A Community Builder

Thanks to the momentum of our BE BOLD Leadership Campaign, more visionary local philanthropists are stepping up to join the ranks of our Community Builders.

The BE BOLD Leadership Campaign sparks innovation, inspires new thinking and uses the power of endowment to create permanent resources that tackle Broward’s big challenges. With a one-time gift or a pledge to build your support over time, you can create an endowed charitable Fund and become a Community Builder who shapes a brighter future for Broward.

Click here to learn more about the BE BOLD Leadership Campaign.

Learn More

To learn more about our Community Builders and the BE BOLD Leadership Campaign, contact Vice President of Philanthropic Services Nancy Thies at or 954-761-9503.

Community Builders

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