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William Cullen Rudd
IT must be true that an honest, faithful, capable life, considered even in its temporal relations, is not lived in vain; that its influence is not as transient and evanescent as mere physical vitality, but that the progress of mankind, in all that is virtuous and ennobling, is accelerated by it; that although the life of one man may be a small factor in the aggregate lives of the race, yet if well spent, its after influence is perceptible and continues to endure for the good of mankind. One such life in Ohio was that of the late William Cullen Rudd, for many years one of the most progressive and best known business men of the city of Cleveland, a man who always guarded well his conduct in all the relations which he sustained to the world, and while advancing his individual interests he did not neglect his general duties as a citizen and became widely known as a philanthropist, emulating the New Testament character who "lived in a house by the side of the road and was a friend to man."
Mr. Rudd was born in Cleveland, Ohio, July 22, 1845, and he was content to spend his life, which rounded out the Psalmist's allotted time, in his native city, finding there all the opportunities to satisfy his youthful ambitions, and he lived to see and take part in the wonderful development of the Forest City from an insignificant lake port to one of the world's great commercial emporiums. He was a son of Charles and Esther (Lacey) Rudd, to whom four children were born, two of whom survive--George A. Rudd, secretary and treasurer of the Chandler & Rudd Company, of which our subject was president; and Mary E. Rudd, who also resides in Cleveland.
William C. Rudd received his education in the public schools and in the Mayflower of Cleveland. At an early age, he entered the employ of E. Stair & Company, dealers in hats and furs. Here as clerk, he received his first business training. Later he went into the Cleveland Rolling Mill Company, at Newburg, now a part of the city. After remaining there a short time he entered the employ of Chandler & Abbott, retail grocers, in 1871, expecting to remain only temporarily. With a change in the firm, however, Mr. Rudd became a partner in the business, the firm then becoming Chandler & Rudd. The business grew very rapidly and to vast proportions under his wise foresight and able management and in 1889 was incorporated as the Chandler & Rudd Company, Mr. Rudd becoming president, continuing as such until his death. He gave his exclusive attention to the same, never engaging in any other line of business, and as a result of his undivided attention, industry and close application, this retail grocery concern grew into the most successful organization of its kind in Cleveland, if not, indeed, in the Middle West, and has for many years been recognized as the highest class concern of its kind in northern Ohio. The company operates three very fine stores in Cleveland, all large, modernly appointed, neatly-kept and carrying extensive stocks of staple and fancy groceries, catering to the best trade.
Mr. Rudd was married October 17, 1872, to Mary A. Rockefeller, of Cleveland, a sister of John D. Rockefeller, and a lady of culture and high social standing. This union was blessed by the birth of four children, namely: Mrs. Beulah Rudd Roberts, of Buffalo, New York, who has one son, Edward William Roberts; Frank Henry Rudd, of Cleveland, who is unmarried; William Cullen Rudd, Jr., who died in 1900, and Laura Rockefeller Rudd, who died in 1907.
William C. Rudd, was a Republican, and while he was deeply interested in public affairs, especially as affecting the welfare of his home city, he was never active in his party or an office holder. He was a member of the Tippecanoe Club, a Republican organization of Cleveland. He also belonged to the Cleveland Chamber of Commerce for many years. He became a member of the Euclid Avenue Baptist church in 1865 and continued very active in the affairs of the congregation the rest of his life, and was a trustee form many years and a deacon at the time of his death. He gave liberally of his means and time to church and charitable work. He was deeply interested in the Josephine Mission, an organization of his church, being its superintendent for more than seventeen years, and during that period he accomplished an immense amount of good. He was greatly esteemed as a leader of the Mission Sunday school.
Mr. Rudd was very fond of fishing, but his hobby in the way of outdoor recreation was golf, and he spent much time on the links at Forest hill, on the Rockefeller estate, often playing with his brother-in-law, John D. Rockefeller, with whom he also frequently attended church, both men being alike interested in a large measure in golf playing and in church work. Mr. Rudd was also actively interested in Hiram House, a Cleveland social settlement organization. He was a member of the Early Settlers Association, a pioneer society, with which he delighted to meet and talk over affairs of the early days.
Mr. Rudd was a great home man, spending as much time as his vast business would permit at his own fireside. He never cared much for clubs or fraternal societies. He was a man of kindly impulses as his large charitable gifts would indicate. He always had a good word for his employees and sought to help them in every way. Of a friendly, genial, sociable disposition, he was a favorite with a very wide circle of friends and acquaintances, who sincerely mourned his loss, when, on September 8, 1915, he was summoned from earthly scenes at the age of seventy years, after an unusually successful business career and a most honorable and useful life.
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