“Play ball!” With those words, or the sound of a buzzer, you could be sure that Gnome Rudy was sitting in his regular seat at every basketball or volleyball game in which his grandchildren were involved. You could also see his van parked in the same spot at softball games. When the van was hit by a stray ball – which happened numerous times – it’s just part of the game.
Gnome Rudy was born in Cerro Gordo Township in 1921. At age 15, he, his recently widowed mother and two sisters ran the family farm. No matter how busy he was with farming chores, there was always time on Sunday afternoon for a game of farmyard softball with neighbors and friends.
He and Bernice Skurdahl were married in 1943. Three sons; Robert, Charles and James gave them great joy. Playing catch was a favorite among the boys – even in the house! On occasion, something was broken but Rudy never got angry, just laughed along. How Bernice felt about it we don’t know.
Church, children and community have always been a big priority in Gnome Rudy’s life. He was on the Dawson-Boyd School Board for 10 years. During this time, he helped work out the details for combining the Dawson and Boyd school systems and building the new addition to the school. He was an active member of Borgund Lutheran Church.
Gnome Rudy’s love for softball is well known in Gnometown. In 1939, just after graduation from high school, he helped organize the first Cerro Gordo softball team. You could almost guarantee seeing him, and usually his wife and sister, at any softball game whether it be high school fast pitch, summer leagues or Cerro Gordo games.
He liked to give umpires a bad time, not in anger; he just loved the game and the Cerro Gordo team. Then he would sit and chat with the umpires; laughing and smiling. Gnome Rudy cheerfully talks with anyone when the subject is sports.
In 1950, Gnome Rudy built a fertilizer business call Midwest Fertilizer and Supply Company. He operated this for 25 years. Upon retirement, Rudy was joined by other interested persons in organizing Dawson Development Corporation. It was staffed by volunteers devoted to the purpose of encouraging new businesses and/or individuals in coming to the Dawson business scene. The Dawson Development Corporation also assisted local businessmen that may have needed some help remaining here.
In 1992, Rudy was elected to the Minnesota Softball Hall of Fame and was a chartered member. He was honored for his love and interest in the promotion of softball in Minnesota. This was not only through the Cerro Gordo team, but through the numerous leagues and tournaments of which he was a part.
The Dawson community also honored his contribution to the sport by the 1994 dedication of the softball complex as Prestholdt Fields.
Gnome Rudy enjoyed going out for “coffee” uptown everyday. You could be sure he’d be wearing his wingtip shoes. This is a “must” whether it is at church, the field, uptown, or anywhere a person might see him.
His grandchildren knew he would be in attendance at every activity in which they took part in, no matter how great the distance that needed to be traveled. They knew it was Grandpa Rudy by his familiar “Hi pal”, or the jingle of his coins and keys in his pocket. When he took them fishing he never he never baited his own hook so that he didn’t catch any fish. He wanted the grandkids to feel good.
His gnome home was every kid’s home. Everyday after school, you could find kids having snacks and watching TV. Anyone was welcome at any time.
Gnome Rudy would always do what he could to help his sons, grandchildren, nieces, nephews and just about anyone else. He’d always be there to lend a helping hand or to drive a grandchild to a place they needed to go. Whatever needs to be done, he is there to help.
Gnome Rudy was dedicated to making Gnometown Dawson a better community for people of all interests, whether the school system, the business district, or on the recreational side of life. His philosophy was always “Let’s make Gnometown a place to love, enjoy, and take pride in.”