In Memoriam: John E. Rudi ’57
John Elton Rudi died July 22, 2022, at age 89. He was born on Jan. 20, 1933, in Pueblo, Colo., to John and Ruby Rudi. The family moved to Woodburn, Ore., in 1940. Rudi grew up during the war and helped his family during those challenging times by raising rabbits and growing a garden to contribute food and income. He attended Woodburn High School and graduated Class of 1951. He then studied at Pacific before returning home. His father congratulated him as he handed him his draft notice. After serving in the United States Army for three years, Rudi returned to Oregon and started what would be a lifelong career as a high school biology teacher.
Rudi began teaching at various schools along the Oregon coast but eventually was offered the opportunity to teach at Oregon City High School. He would go on to teach biology at Oregon City High School for over 30 years and was a very popular teacher, receiving many awards for his teaching. Rudi was a great advocate of active participation in his classroom and focused on interactive labs and demonstrations. Rudi continued his service to the country by joining the Oregon National Guard and received his commission as a second lieutenant from the Oregon Military Academy in 1957. He served for over 30 years in the Guard and Reserves, teaching for many of those years at the US Army Reserve School at Ft. Vancouver Barracks. The time Rudi spent in the military was a special honor for him and he retired as a lieutenant colonel.
In 1965, Rudi met the love of his life, Phyllis Fike, and they married the following year. Fike was a third-grade teacher in Oregon City after moving to Oregon from North Dakota. Rudi and his wife were inseparable and did everything together. Never a pair to stand still, they opened a florist shop in Woodburn on part of the family property in 1975. Rudi and another friend built the store over one summer and evenings after school. Upon its opening, Rudi's Flowers and Gifts was an immediate success. Rudi and Fike operated and grew the business for many years.
Rudi and his wife were devoted Oregon City residents and attended Oregon City Evangelical Church. However, several years ago they moved to Vancouver, Wash., to be closer to family. He was a man of many hobbies, including clock collecting and antiquing at estate sales and garage sales. More than anything else, Rudi loved playing the banjo. One of Rudi's greatest joys was being a member of the Rose City Banjoliers. The Banjoliers have entertained for many years at events and retirement centers throughout the Portland Metro area. Rudi retired as president of the Rose City Banjoliers a couple of years ago, but continued to practice with his banjos until his death.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Ole and Ruby Rudi; and sister, Ardell Hall. Rudi is survived by his wife of 57 years, Phyllis Rudi; his son, John B. Rudi; his daughter-in-law, Michele Rudi; grandsons, John Patrick and Matt; and granddaughter, Grace.