Second time around, Rudder memorial in Brady is a must

A few years ago, in one of my more pointed editorial columns, I ‘shame-shamed’ Brady for its failure to stake a claim to Earl Rudder and memorialize him and his contributions to our town, our state and our nation. I opened my mouth and made a statement that I was going to lead a charge dedicated to honoring a man who called Brady home. Since making that statement, I have failed miserably in getting any effort started. That is until now. I met with a man named Troy Kelley on Wednesday, after his wife and I became acquainted last week when she stopped in town to visit her parents, Dayton and Virginia Boren. It seems as if Troy is a rather accomplished sculptor and with some gentle prodding by his wife and after reading several historical accounts of Earl Rudder, he began formulating an idea for a possible monument recognizing him for some of the significant contributions he has made to our town, state and nation. I was visiting last year with Rudder’s commissioned biographer, Dr. Tom Hatfield (a professor at the other school over in Austin, of all places). As the man with probably the most ‘official’ knowledge of the life and times of Earl Rudder, Dr. Hatfield told me during several of our conversations that Brady is the town that Rudder called home. The fact is, he was indeed born in Eden and yes, they do actually have a small plaque in his honor at the small park downtown. I am humbly corrected and admit fault for wrongly stating otherwise. What remains, however, is the fact that Brady was where Rudder made his home and when he was a state politician or president of Texas A&M University, he called Brady his hometown. Don’t take my word for it, ask Dr. Hatfield, he has the research and personal testimonies to prove it. Rudder was a leader, plain and simple. Not everyone liked his style or method, but the facts are irrefutable, he was a true born leader. He was mayor of Brady from 1946 to 1952 and was vice president of Brady Aviation Company in 1953. On Jan. 1, 1955, he assumed the office of land commissioner after the abandonment of the position by James Bascom Giles. At that time, the Veterans Land Program was under scrutiny for mismanagement and corruption. Rudder undertook the task of reforming policies, expediting land applications, and closely supervising proper accounting procedures. He also oversaw the proper leasing of state lands by employing more field inspectors for oil and gas sites and adding a seismic exploration staff. On the strength of his many reforms, Rudder won the election for land commissioner in 1956 and served until Feb. 1, 1958. That year, he became vice president of the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas. He became president in 1959 and president of the entire A&M system in 1965. In 1967, President Lyndon Johnson presented Rudder the Distinguished Service Medal, the highest peacetime service award When it comes down to the facts, Earl Rudder called Brady home. It is time to take that distinction and stake a rightful claim to him and call him our own. I am going to begin an effort to honor Col. James Earl Rudder in a way that is befitting a man of his stature. In discussing the possibility of having a bronze sculpture done, ideas are already formed that can easily come to life. I am in a unique position as mayor to steer things in that direction which, in my opinion, is long overdue. The idea of a statue of sorts will not be cheap and it must be funded by private donations and contributions. I, for one, will make a financial contribution toward seeing an idea come to fruition. Renaming a street, the lake or something of that nature could be possible, but I think a dedicated statue depicting different aspects of his life ranging from his military service, to his life as a scholar and businessman makes a great idea. If you agree and want to be involved, contact me via email and put your name on the list. I said it once before and got some response, but this time, thanks to members of our local museum board and Troy Kelley, the ideas are already being formed.’JS email address: jstew@centex.net

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