The late U.S. Sen. Margaret Chase Smith of Maine is quoted as saying this about public service: “My creed is that public service must be more than doing a job efficiently and honestly. It must be a complete dedication to the people and to the nation with full recognition that every human being is entitled to courtesy and consideration, that constructive criticism is not only to be expected but sought, that smears are not only to be expected but fought, that honor is to be earned, not bought.”
Our local example of Smith’s creed is Dale Rudolph: Persistent and tenacious in service, committed to responsible growth that preserved the city’s character, a believer that Poulsbo could continue to become a better place to live and work.
He was a mayor’s son who got involved in local government not because of a sense of entitlement, but because he believed the quality of life in a community was a reflection of the involvement of its residents.
And in the end, he faced his terminal illness the way he faced life: With strength of will and a positive never-give-up attitude.
We should be able to look to our leaders for examples of how to confront challenges, personal and political. Rudolph stands out as that example.
Rudolph, president of the Poulsbo Historical Society and a former longtime member of the Poulsbo City Council, died of lung disease July 6. About a month earlier, he had learned he had made it onto the list for a lung transplant, and for months had diligently worked out at a gym to maintain his health and his lung capacity in preparation for the surgery.
Even as he waited, dependent upon a portable oxygen supply, he didn’t let up on his duties as president of the Poulsbo Historical Society, working on a laptop if need be, and attending meetings of the Herald’s Community Advisory Board before hitting the gym.
“Because of his experience as an engineer, planner and public official, he was able to contribute thoughtful, reasoned arguments on issues we discussed, yet he was always open to points offered by others,” Herald Editor Richard Walker said.
“He faced his illness with the same discipline and dedication he gave to other endeavors in his life — working out regularly, even with his oxygen tank, to be healthy for the surgery. I never heard him complain; he said once, and I’m paraphrasing here, that if he received the lung transplant he would get several more years of life, but if he didn’t he’d had a good run. He was a picture of courage and faith.”
People who knew Rudolph in other areas of community life have similar recollections.
Here’s how he is remembered for his service on the City Council, the Kitsap Regional Coordinating Council and the Puget Sound Regional Council: “He was very no-nonsense, very opinionated, and most of the time very right,” Councilman Ed Stern said. “[He] and I had our share of agreements and disagreements, but we always had respect for each other. He was committed to having Poulsbo grow, but have it grow right and stay Poulsbo.”
“He worked tirelessly, did his homework,” Mayor Becky Erickson said. “I didn’t always agree with him, but I never doubted his respect and affection for the community.”
Here’s how he’s remembered by the Poulsbo Historical Society; he championed the society’s effort to have a museum created in City Hall: “It was another example of Dale’s persistence, hard work and tenacity that carried it through, and allowed us to open our doors, offering the community and visitors a unique and quite amazing historical repository and museum that showcases the Poulsbo area and heritage.”
In a statement announcing Rudolph’s death, the historical society added, “Dale was admired greatly for his strength of will, his positive ‘never give up’ attitude, his quiet passion and compassion, his smile and his excitement and enthusiasm for the museum, his friends and family. Many of the PHS board members and the volunteer docents who run the museum, have grown up with Dale ... he was our life-long friend … He will be missed.”
Bob Hawkinson, a Poulsbo lawyer, summed up his childhood friend this way: “Dale was always very passionate about Poulsbo and loved Poulsbo. He always wanted to make it a better place.”
Farewell, Dale Rudolph. May your service stand as an example of how an individual can make a difference in the community. And may your courage and faith comfort those grieving your absence here.