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Remembering the Life of John Rudolph

John and Mary Rudolph

Mary & John Rudolph

John Rudolph, the successful entrepreneur, community leader and family man who heralded Rudolph Foods Corporation from making pork rinds to the global snack leader that it is today, died on April 16 after a struggle with health issues, at the age of 88. Mr. Rudolph, as most affectionately referred to him, passed peacefully, surrounded by his family in his Lima, Ohio farmhouse.

John and Mary Rudolph

Born near Toledo, Ohio on September 16, 1924, to John and Verna Libbe Rudolph, John Rudolph graduated from Lake High School and spent three years serving in the U.S. Army as a Tech Sargent in Germany during World War II. He was a fan of basketball, playing in both high school and college. In 1948, John graduated from Bowling Green University with a B.A. in Business Management and married his college sweetheart Mary Miller, later settling in Lima, Ohio.

Launching Rudolph Foods in 1955, John Rudolph never retired and stayed involved in the business, even going to the office within the last few weeks of his life. He made sure that the Rudolph Foods’ culture continued to adopt and embrace his “can do” attitude, crediting those who worked for him for helping to build the company throughout the years. His experience in the snack food industry included a variety of leadership roles within the Snack Food Association, the Food Industries Center at The Ohio State University, and the Young Presidents Organization.

Young John Rudolph
John E. Rudolph Lima Award

Passionate about his community, he served as President of the Lima Rotary Club, the Lima Chamber of Commerce, the Lima YMCA Board of Directors, and St. Luke’s Church Council. He was chairman of a United Way Campaign and served as a board member for both Lima Memorial Hospital and Tower Bank (Bank One). Mr. Rudolph had vision to make Lima better and helped to lead several significant community projects including; construction of the Lima Streetscape project, Lima/Allen County Civic and Convention Center, the New Lima YMCA, Ottawa River Bike Path extension, and the restoration of the Schnorf Building (now housing the Chamber of Commerce). He talked fondly of Lima often saying, “I love this town”.

Known for having a passion for everything “big and small,” John Rudolph loved life. He adored his loving wife of 64 years, Mary, who survives him; 4 children, Kathy Rudolph, Susie Cornell, Jim Rudolph, and Rich (Jan) Rudolph, all of Lima; a daughter-in-law, Nancy Rudolph, of Lima; 8 grandchildren, Elizabeth (David) Entinghe, Caroline Rudolph, Johnny Rudolph, John Cornell, Sarah Cornell, Ryan Malooly, Skyler Malooly, and Zion Rudolph; 4 siblings, Philip Rudolph, Mary Oberdick, Helyn (Chuck) Kurfess, and Kathleen (Ron) Holzman, all of Toledo; and 2 sisters-in-law, Marilyn Rudolph and Nancy Rudolph, both of Toledo.

John Rudolph and President Bush

He was preceded in death by a son, Philip Rudolph; 2 brothers, Fritz Rudolph and Kermit Rudolph; a sister-in-law, Iris Rudolph; and a brother-in-law, Bob Oberdick. He is also preceded in death by siblings of his beloved Mary; Eldon and Helene Miller, and John and Helen Downie.

Well regarded as a catalyst for change and a natural-born leader, John Rudolph was a family man and a driven visionary with a passion for life. He will forever be admired by his family, friends, coworkers, and community.

A service of Christian burial was celebrated Saturday, April 20, 2013 at St. Luke’s Lutheran Church. In his memory, donations may be made to the Lima YMCA or St. Luke’s Lutheran Church.