Former Starke County Car Dealer Passes Away

Leonard Rudd

As reported yesterday, Leonard Rudd, 85, passed away at his home Wednesday evening. For the better part of his life, he was involved in the automotive business, owning and operating his Chevrolet-Buick store in Knox from 1961 to 1989.

He was also an auctioneer, and for many years sang with the original Rudd Family Singers.

Leonard Rudd, age 85 passed away on Wednesday, August 10 at his home in Knox. He was born to Rev. Orban and Anna (Mullins) Rudd on June 13, 1926 in McGoffin County Kentucky. In 1939 the Rudd Family relocated from the mountains of southeastern Kentucky to the flatlands of northwest Indiana, making a home here in Starke County.

Leonard met Kathryn Shepherd and they married on December 4, 1943 in Knox. To this union of nearly 68 years was born 7 children: Rodney (Naomi) of Portage, IN; Bill (Sandy) of Birmingham, AL; Greg (Karen) of Knox; Cathy (Rich) Wallen of Portage, IN; Connie (Mike) Minix of Knox, Debbie (Terry) Jordan, of Knox; and Randy (Lindsey) of South Bend, IN. Leonard and Kathryn Rudd have 23 grandchildren and 42 great-grandchildren. Leonard was preceded in death by his parents, three brothers: Alvin, Sanford and Kinard; two sisters: Beatrice Marshall and Edna Mae Napier; a grandson, Travis Rudd and great-granddaughter, Jessah Jordan.

Leonard Rudd spent the better part of his life in the automotive business in Pulaski and Starke Counties. He owned and operated the Chevrolet Buick store in Knox from 1961 to 1989. Many a customer from this area and throughout LaPorte, Marshall and Porter counties would make the trip to Leonard Rudd Chevrolet Buick in Knox, IN to purchase their cars and trucks. One of his favorite commercial jingles for the business was, “Rudd is cheap, cheap cheaper in the country, where his pace is a little slower and his price is a little lower, Rudd is cheap, cheap cheaper in the country.” He was always known for his innovative campaigns at the dealership, and how well he treated his customers.

Leonard and others in the family owned Starke County Publishers from 1973 to 1988 and published the local newspapers the Democrat and Republican, which later became the Leader and Review which are both still in publication today. No matter who was sitting in the editor’s chair at the newspaper, Leonard always instructed them to prominently put more stories about young people and families in the paper. He believed that the family was the backbone of our nation and wanted to do all he could to celebrate this.

During his years in business, Leonard was sought after to serve on many executive boards among which included the Hamlet State Bank, Westville Correctional Institute and the fund raising arm that secured the monies to build the new addition and remodeling of Starke Memorial Hospital in the late 1960s. He often spoke of former Governor Schricker asking him to head up this project, saying that he would help him, but the bulk of the project was handled by Leonard and the project was a tremendous success.

One of his favorite events each year was the Starke County 4-H Fair. Many years he took cars to the fair, visited with customers and celebrated the accomplishments of the youth of the county. During the Friday night auction, he often helped Dewey Anderson with the auctioneering chores at the fair, and always tried to get the most money he could for the 4-h-ers.

Leonard Rudd was a natural-born mentor and encourager. He always loved to talk about his life experiences to his family and anyone else who took time to listen. He spoke of working for Bill Hubbard in Francesville and how one time he got a deal made on a car with someone who Hubbard just could not sell, but Leonard got it done. He spoke of the auction sale of the airport property in Starke County in the late 1960s which is now home to the Knox Community School System and the Knox Mall. He talked about dealing with the banker at the old American State Bank in North Judson and how he could get deals done with just a quick conversation. One of his favorite sayings was, “People helping people….that’s what life is all about.”

Several people throughout the years worked for him at the dealership and newspaper. Through conversation and encouragement he always subtly pushed people to be the best they could be. The comments and compliments always roll in about how Leonard gave them their start in business and had it not been for him they would not have gone into business themselves or taken that chance that launched a career. He always joyed to see others succeed in life.

His most treasured relationship was with his Lord and Savior. In 1949 Leonard personally accepted Jesus as Savior and became a member of Calvary Baptist Church and he faithfully served this church that was founded in part by his father, Rev. Orban Rudd and others who settled here from Southeastern Kentucky in the early 1940s. Leonard will always be remembered for his strong singing voice and “Holy-Spirit” inspiration. Along with his wife Kathryn, brother Ray, and sister Roberta, he joyfully sang about the Lord and the hope we have in Jesus Christ at the highway 10 church and at many other local churches for revivals and special singings throughout years. And even though illness had taken much of his mental capacities in his final days, he would still reach for Kathryn’s hand at meal time and pray the blessing over the food.

Whether he was called husband, Dad, or Grandpa, his family meant the world to him and he was so proud of them and their accomplishments.

The family invites all to attend a “Rudd Family Celebration of Life Service” for their dad on Sunday, August 14 at 1 pm central time at Calvary Baptist Church, on highway 10 in Knox. Friends may call at the Braman and Son Memorial Chapel in Knox on Saturday, the 13th from 4 to 8 pm central time. Memorial gifts may be given to Center for Hospice Care of Marshall County.