Obituary: Beatrice Rutman, mother of Bob Dylan

  • Article by: LUCY Y. HER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 26, 2000 - 10:00 PM

My dear mother, I hope that you

Will never grow old and gray,

So that all the people in the world will say:

''Hello, young lady, Happy Mother's Day.''

Though her son was a folk/rock icon, friends and neighbors said that Beatrice Rutman didn't have airs about her. She was like any other mom who loved to cook her children's favorite meals and watch her grandchildren.

Young Bob Zimmerman, who became Bob Dylan, wrote the poem on a piece of notebook paper and gave it to her on a Mother's Day. It was his first poem.

''I had to read it to the women,'' his mother said then. ''I must had had about 20 of them just crying their eyes out. We were going to frame some of those other poems, but I just kept them in a drawer. One of them I read over so often that the wording was nearly rubbed off the paper.''

Rutman, who lived in Highland Park neighborhood in St. Paul, died Tuesday. She was 84.

''This is very, very sad; she was a grand, old lady,'' said Noel Pearman, who lives across Bayard Av. from Rutman's simple two-story house.

He said she spent her winters in Arizona and that the neighborhood will miss the unpretentious, friendly woman who, despite her son's fame and wealth, never had airs about her.

''You would never know it,'' Pearman said. ''She would pass the time of day with anybody. She was very gracious to the kids, and she was just an all-around very good neighbor.''

In typical Minnesota fashion, Pearman said the neighbors would never bring up Bob's name in conversation.

''Generally, we never mentioned it,'' he said. ''But we discussed it when [Dylan] was sick a few years ago.''

He said Dylan would occasionally visit her house. ''Of course, he was such a private person,'' Pearman said. ''He would come and go, but mostly we would hear from the kids that he had gone.''

At his mother's knee while growing up in Duluth and then Hibbing, Minn., Dylan learned to expect and receive a great deal of attention from women, wrote Robert Shelton in his book, ''No Direction Home: The Life and Music of Bob Dylan.'' He described Dylan's mother as a ''warm, effusive and outgoing'' person, and the neighborhood children called her Beatty.

To dispel rumors that there was friction between Dylan and his parents, d Dave Zimmerman, Dylan's younger brother, told the Minneapolis Star in 1972: ''The friction between Bobby and my parents has been exaggerated all out of proportion. There isn't any kid who at one time or another hasn't had differences with his parents. I mean, that's what's going on everywhere now, isn't it?''

Abe and Beatrice Zimmerman lived in Duluth for 14 years before moving to Hibbing, when Bob was 6 and David 2.

Lynne Lindholm of St. Paul, another Highland Park neighbor, said Rutman was ''a pretty active person,'' but she always had time to stop and asked about Lindholm's daughters.

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