Long time Bethesda, MD, and Flinton, PA, resident Ludwig “Lu” Rudel passed away, surrounded by family, Thursday, September 30, 2021, after a brief illness. Lu was born in 1930 in Vienna, Austria to Josephine Sonnenblum Rudel and Jakob Rudel. With his mother, he escaped Europe’s Nazi persecutions to join his older brother Julius in New York City in 1938. He and his brother were deeply grateful to become Americans and remained patriotic Americans all of their lives. He is survived by his beloved wife of 58 years, Joan Fogltanz Rudel.
After graduation from City College in New York (1952) and training in ROTC, Lu served in the Army in the US and Japan during the Korean conflict (1953-1955). He worked for
the US State Department Agency for International Development in Iran, Turkey (where he met Joan), and India. Six years in New Delhi left an indelible imp
rint on the family. He earned a masters at the University of Michigan in 1964, worked for the State of Pennsylvania, and retired from the Federal government in 1980. His post-retirement employment included international consultancies as well as a stint as a limo driver. Lu had an entrepreneurial streak and bought land in rural Pennsylvania. Over several decades he worked with local residents and businesses to develop it into the vibrant residential and recreational community of Glendale Yearound. In the course of this work he assembled investors (including many of his friends), befriended local bankers, and developed lifelong
connections with the local folks he worked with. He loved flying small planes, earning his pilot’s license in 1965 and flying the rest of his life, for a time owning a small Cessna. He and Joan loved traveling and visited over 70 countries for work or pleasure, often meeting friends and relatives. They also loved theatre and music – especially opera– and hosted poetry readings. Lu and Joan had long and strong connections with their friends, especially a core group that had worke
d in India together. This group was always ready to discuss and solve world problems and to create witty puns and playful scavenger hunts based on current event themes, spending weekends sipping wine together at the Pennsylvania farmhouse. Lu never forgot the terror of how things fell apart in Austria at the beginning of the second world war and these experiences contributed to his worry about the fragility of democracy, including in the US. He invested in land in Canada in case things would fall apart in the US. He made sure all of his children and grandchildren had copies of the US Constitution and Bill of Rights, and tried to impress on them the uniqueness and value of the governance and citizenship agreements enshrined there. Lu has been described as wise, curious, witty, and pesky. He would speak passion
ately and skillfully about philosophy, religion, and politics. He loved the arts, and had a particular fondness for poetry. His wonder at the world around him and his capacity to seek out new knowledge and experiences persisted even after many decades of an extraordinary life. He was generous with his time and eager to hear other’s perspectives.
Lu is preceded in death by his parents and his brother Julius Rudel. Survived by his wife Joan, son, David Rudel (Sandra) of Colrain, MA and daughters, Ruthann Rudel of Colrain and Cambridge, MA and Joanna Devine (Jack) of N. Potomac, MD. Also survived by his grandchildren “The Eight Cousins” Wolfgang, Emma, Declan, Ambrose, Ezra, Willa, Eamon and Carrie and a caring group of loving relatives, friends and neighbors. A memorial service was held November 20, 2021. Some of Lu’s favorite charities were the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, which helped his family settle in the US and now helps refugees of all faiths and ethnicities from all over the world, Death with Dignity, the Turner Syndrome Society of the US, and GenderSpectrum.org. He described his escape from Austria and subsequent experiences and careers in the US in his memoir, “Memoirs of an Agent for Change in International Development: My Flight Path into the 21st Century,” and his experience of fleeing from Nazis in Austria is recorded as an oral history in the Leo Baeck Society archive.