Ben Rude 1931-2005
BEN DALE RUDE
April 28, 1931 - January 13, 2005
Ben Dale, as his mother called him, was born of Norwegian parents in Minot, North Dakota. Ben Rude embodied this Norwegian (Viking) heritage in that he was a strong and determined person with an extraordinary zest for life.
This zest for life was manifested in his embrace of mental and physical pursuits, such as a love of learning, driving him to attain higher education and to become a lifelong reader of history. He loved classical music and jazz. Physically, he liked to push himself, becoming a runner (six marathons), a biker, mountain hiker, sailor, snow and water skier--he wanted a slalom water ski for his 70th birthday. You could not be in Ben's presence without feeling this zest.
At the age of ten, his family moved to Hollywood. Before enlisting in the Air Force during the Korean War, where he was stationed state-side, he graduated from Hollywood High. He returned from the service and took advantage of the GI Bill, which Ben felt was the opportunity of a lifetime. Although not a motivated student in the past, Ben embraced his higher education, achieving two master's degrees and completing all the requirements for a doctorate except the "dratted" dissertation. He loved education so much that he decided to become a teacher, specializing in the history of the English language and linguistics, which led him to the field of English as a second language. He spent most of his 38-year career at his beloved Pasadena City College, which included a long service as the head of the foreign student program, a job he adored. He ended his full-time teaching career receiving the coveted Ralph Story Service Award in 1991, "For significant contributions to the college, to the community and to the field of education." Ben felt that teaching is a noble profession to which the best and brightest should be drawn. After retirement in 1991, he taught part-time until 1997.
Ben and Chris Darrow married in 1956 and had two precious children, Donna and Eric. During their 16-year marriage they enjoyed a Fulbright teaching grant to Norway, where Chris and Ben made life-long friends. In 1975, we were married in La Crescenta, California. In 1980 we also spent a Fulbright teaching year, this time in wonderful Denmark, making several close friends.
Ben was always handy; and he made it an avocation as we spent many years remodeling and refurbishing real estate, both personal and for investment. We loved real estate, which was a "Cinderella" story. The investment real estate became a way of life, which we both benefited from, enjoying wonderful tenants throughout these 30 years. We especially enjoyed remodeling a small cabin in Shaver Lake, California, in the central Sierra Nevada mountains not too far from Yosemite. It led to 25 summers of joyous sharing with family and friends, of days of being together, celebrating friendship and the beauty of California.
Moving to Bear Valley Springs, a mountain community two hours from Los Angeles, in 1988 was a highlight in Ben's life. He loved his home, his horses, his seven huge valley oak trees and his life. His days were spent in a happy retirement of running, hiking, bad golf, cooking, traveling and rewarding work. Then, in 1996, Ben was diagnosed with a rare form of lymphoma called Waldenstrom's macroglobulinemia (WM). Therefore, most of this work was for the support of patients and research for a cure through the International Waldenstrom's Macroglobulinemia Foundation (IWMF), serving as its second president from mid-2000. He felt truly privileged that his cancer brought such meaning to his life through the people, the work and the travel which gave him so much pleasure. Ben walked twice for the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life, covering 41 miles in one of the relays.
It bothered Ben that obituaries would often say that a person died after a long "battle" with cancer. He recently told me that I should be sure to say that he passed away after eight-and-a-half years of peaceful coexistence with cancer, which by no means could be called a battle. He said that he wanted it known that his experience with cancer enriched his life (and mine) because of the people it brought us in contact with and the foundation which he served and which educated him about his disease. He thought it was important for people to be aware of what kind of cancer a person dies of and how they died--such was his curious nature, which caused him to want to educate. Ben's WM transformed to a very aggressive lymphoma, an exceedingly rare occurrence, finally invading his liver due to his compromised immune system from the necessary chemotherapy. Ben and his outstanding hematologist had wanted to treat aggressively as Ben had a lot of disease burden. Thankfully, until Thanksgiving, he had a very good quality of life.
Ben became weak and ran a spiking fever after his sixth chemotherapy of Rituxan, Fludarabine and Cytoxan during Thanksgiving week. We had hoped that he would recover up until four days before he took his last breath at home, with Donna and Eric and me holding his hands. It was a beautiful passing for which we are very grateful.
Ben is survived by his daughter Donna, and son Eric; son-in-law Daniel Slight; granddaughter Christine; brother John and his wife Gerda; his children's mother, Chris Rugee; friends from Hollywood High and from all over the world. He was truly blessed.
A person's life, Ben believed, is measured by the effort they make for the benefit of others. My great privilege was to have been married to such a man.
If you would like to make a donation in Ben's honor, please send it to:
I.W.M.F., 3932-D Swift Road, Sarasota, FL 34231-6541, (941)927-4963, www.iwmf.com.