Walter E. Rudolph Sr., 89, graphic artist, singer

April 24, 2005|By Laura Barnhardt | Laura Barnhardt,SUN STAFF

Walter Edwin Rudolph Sr., a retired graphic artist and singer, died April 17 of complications from Parkinson's disease at Oak Crest Village in Parkville. He was 89.

Known as "Bud" and "Rudy," Mr. Rudolph was born in West Baltimore and was raised in Overlea. A 1935 graduate of Polytechnic Institute, Mr. Rudolph began his career as a graphic artist working at several local advertising agencies, said his wife, the former Elma-Mae "Sunny" Ruff.

She said her husband may have inherited his artistic talents from his grandfather Ernest B. Rudolph, a portrait and landscape artist who had a Baltimore Street studio and was chief artist for the Bendann Art Gallery in the 1880s.

During World War II, Mr. Rudolph served with the Army's Aviation Engineers in China, Burma and India, his wife said. He was a sergeant when he was discharged after more than four years. He enjoyed traveling to Army reunions and often created the art for reunion posters, Mrs. Rudolph said.

After three years attending the University of Baltimore at night, Mr. Rudolph became the assistant chief of the U.S. Air Research and Development Command's art department. He then worked at the Social Security Administration in Woodlawn for more than 20 years. He retired in 1980.

Mr. Rudolph met his wife at St. James Lutheran Church in Overlea, where they both sang in the choir. During their nearly 59 years of marriage, they performed at more than 100 weddings, she said. Mr. Rudolph, a tenor, also sang with the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad glee club and with the Die Liedersaenger madrigal group for 17 years.

"He especially loved operas," said Mrs. Rudolph, adding that Puccini's La Boheme was one of his favorites.

Mr. Rudolph painted with watercolors and also liked to draw. The couple's Christmas cards always featured a painting or drawing, Mrs. Rudolph said. A Tahitian scene drawn by Mr. Rudolph was published in The Sun's Travel section in 2001, along with a description of a two-week cruise the couple took to French Polynesia.

Mr. and Mrs. Rudolph were active in the Campus Hills neighborhood of Towson from 1960 until 1997, when they moved to a Perry Hall condominium.

Mr. Rudolph worked on the neighborhood's newsletter, and he and his wife were active with the community's garden committee, helping to plant and maintain the flowers on the Goucher Boulevard median strip.

"We worked as a team in everything we did," said Mrs. Rudolph, recalling that if she took the lead on a project, he was behind the scenes, and vice-versa.

Mr. Rudolph was honored by the Campus Hills Community Association as the Citizen of the Year in 1979 for his years of service in the neighborhood - an honor Mrs. Rudolph received a year later.

"He was probably the most energetic and vital man I've known," said Vernon Klein of Catonsville, a retired insurance salesman and cousin by marriage. "He had a great attitude about life. He was a talented artist, an excellent vocalist - an all-around good guy."

After he had a pacemaker implanted in 2004, Mr. Rudolph moved to the Oak Crest Village Care Center.

His funeral was held Friday in Oak Crest Village's chapel.

In addition to his wife, Mr. Rudolph is survived by a daughter, Sharon A. Rudolph of Baltimore; a son, Walter "Rudy" Edwin Rudolph Jr. of Bel Air; and one grandson.

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