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Juneau-Douglas City Museum

Rude, Joseph C.

by Donald Rude

I was born in 1924, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, while my father, Joseph C. Rude, was attending the U. of Minnesota Medical School. He graduated in the winter of 1928-29. He wanted to be a Medical Missionary in South America but could not get a sponsor. He was a child during the Klondike Gold Rush and I think his decision to accept employment with Dr. Ellis in Ketchikan, Alaska, was influenced by his interest in the gold rush and by a desire for adventure. He had grown up on a farm in northern Minnesota and was drafted into the Army in 1918. He was assigned to the Medical Corps and that was his first experience with medicine. When he went home he asked his father to let him take over the farm but his father said no, so he said he would become a doctor. But first he had to finish high school. At age 25, he went back to a boarding high school and in 1921, he began at the U. of Minnesota. He also got married at that time. My two sisters, Lorraine Rude Thompson and Audrey Rude Gilbert and I were born during those years.

In March 1929, we set out for Alaska. Mother was in her eighth month of pregnancy with Jim. We traveled on the Great Northern Railroad to Seattle. After staying at the Frye Hotel in Seattle we took passage on the SS Alameda and arrived in Ketchikan. Our first home was built on pilings over the beach on the outside of the wooden street which was also on pilings. We were a short distance north of the White Cliff School where Lorraine entered the first grade. In June, we moved to Petersburg. My brother Jim was born about a month after arriving in Ketchikan so he is the only real Alaskan-born in the family.

In November of 1940, Dad made a trip to Juneau and when he came home he announced that he had been invited to join Dr. Dawes in Juneau. This was a wonderful opportunity for him but we kids were very sad to leave all our friends and the familiar area we called home.

In Juneau, Dad bought the four-year old home of Anthony Karnes, Commissioner of Education, at the top of Main Street for $8,000. There he lived for the next 48 years. He was involved in some contentious changes. First there was the Heath Care Contract for the A-J Mine which had required that all miners and their families be treated by the Juneau Clinic. It was changed to allow free choice of doctors. A few years later, he was elected to the school board and served during the years in which the Government School for Native children was taken over and the grade school was integrated. Then there was an active building program and the formation of a taxation district for school support and finally the merging of the Douglas Schools with the Juneau Schools. Meanwhile, my mother, Amy, was active in a number of organizations including the St. Annís Hospital Auxiliary and her favorite, the Juneau Botany Club. They were also active in the Pioneers of Alaska, Sons of Norway and in the Resurrection Lutheran Church, Lions Club and Chamber of Commerce.

Dr. Rude and Dr. John Clements had formed the Doctorís Clinic in 1944, and when Dr. Clements died in 1959, Dr. Joe Riederer became a partner. Later, Dr. Rude sold his share of the clinic to Dr. Ray but continued to work part time. He also traveled to Skagway twice a month for several years as there was no resident doctor there. During this time, dad also realized a long held dream by going to Bolivia for three months as a medical volunteer.

Dad was an enthusiastic sportsman and hardly missed a year hunting moose and deer and fishing on his pride and joy the M/V Doboy. After breaking a leg skiing, he gave up that sport but resumed it when Eaglecrest was built and continued until he was aged 92.

Meanwhile, the family had grown up and departed. Lorraine never really lived in Juneau. After college she taught school in Petersburg and married (Thompson) and raised her own family there.

I came back to Juneau each summer to work and after finishing medical school my wife and I, with our daughter, lived in Juneau and I worked at the Doctorís Clinic. My wife, Olive Olson Rude, was from North Dakota and had been hired by St. Annís Hospital after her graduation from nurseís training. We moved to Seattle to take additional training in surgery at the Virginia Mason Hospital and the Mason Clinic. Following that our interests led us elsewhere to Washington State and to East Africa.

Audrey met her husband (Gilbert) who was stationed in Juneau with the Army during WW II. His home was Maryland and he became an attorney and a judge in his home state.

Jim was a Navy pilot and then had a 35-year career as a pilot with TWA with his home base in Massachusetts.

In 1971, my mother began to show signs of what proved to be Alzheimerís disease. By 1980, she was unable to walk, talk, or recognize friends or family. She was confined to St. Annís Nursing Home where dad went three times a day to help her with her meals. She died in March 1988. That fall while in Petersburg to help celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Petersburg Lutheran Church, dad had a stroke which left him unable to walk or talk, two of his favorite activities. He was confined to the Pioneerís Home in Sitka until his death in January 1992.