Since being established, the school has graduated 711 nursing students with 89 students receiving nursing degrees as recently as last May. Currently there are a total of 383 fulltime students enrolled in the nursing school and 35 part time students.
Dr. Harvill Eaton, president of Cumberland, said yesterday that it was a sad day for Cumberland University as he remembered Mrs. Rudy and the many contributions she made to the school.
Eaton characterized Mrs. Rudy as a very generous person who had the foresight to recognize a need for a nursing program many years in advance of a nationwide shortage of nurses.
He said her generosity and leadership has made it possible for more than 700 students to receive nursing degrees at Cumberland and to go out into the world and practice valued healthcare skills.
Clement said Mrs. Rudy was Cumberlands largest financial contributor during his era as president.
She was a wonderful woman and a person I loved and respected so very, very much, Clement said.
He noted that her first significant donation to the school came shortly after her introduction to the campus in the mid-1980s when she offered to restore a structure on campus that was in disrepair and subject to being torn down.
Clement said Mrs. Rudy donated $100,000 to have the house restored and the board voted to name it in her honor. The Rudy House is used now as a residence for overnight guests on campus and also as a meeting place.
While she favored Cumberlands nursing program, she was also a supporter of other programs and activities on campus including Cumberlands athletic teams and especially the schools renown baseball team.
Besides her involvement with Cumberland, Mrs. Rudy had a number of other interests.A longtime member of the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, a position appointed by the governor, she was a strong proponent of outdoor recreation, hunting and fishing. She was an avid turkey hunter and held key positions in state and national turkey hunting organizations.
She was also an accomplished trap shooter winning a number of competitions and gaining significant recognition for her talents as a shotgun marksman.
In 2006, Mrs. Rudy donated a valuable duck stamp collection to the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, D.C.
Announcing the donation, the Smithsonian described Mrs. Rudy as a famed collector, adding that her donation includes the first Federal Duck Stamp (Scott RW1) ever sold.
The Smithsonian said at a ceremony recognizing Mrs. Rudy that her collection, which took more than 50 years to assemble, is widely considered to be the finest private collection of its type.
Many remember Mrs. Rudy as an amazing person. She had audiences with former U.S. presidents, was a confidant to a number of Tennessee governors and at the same time related well to everyday people.
She was a registered nurse earning her degree in nursing from Saint Thomas Hospital.
She and her husband, the late Dan Rudy, along with his brother, the late Frank Rudy, owned Rudys Farms in Nashville, famous for the Rudys Country Sausage brand of breakfast sausage.
The Rudy family owned acreage in the Donelson area and sold a portion of what is known as Pennington Bend in the Cumberland River for what is now the Opryland complex on Briley Parkway.
Mrs. Rudy several years ago wrote and published a book about the history of the Pennington Bend area of Nashville.
The Rudys have made significant financial contributions for a lengthy list of causes across Middle Tennessee including a major gift to Nashvilles Saint Thomas Hospital for a cancer care unit. This area of the hospital was dedicated as the Dan Rudy Cancer Center.
Services were held for Mrs. Rudy Tuesday afternoon in Nashville.
She was preceded in death by parents, Felix and Edna Cantrell; husband, Daniel Cleese Rudy; brother, Alton Cantrell. She is survived by sisters, Geneva Barry, Margaret Smitherman, Louise C. Merryman; host of nieces and nephews.
Funeral services were conducted at Hibbett & Hailey Funeral Home in Donelson with Bro. Robert Morgan officiating, interment followed in Mt. Olivet Cemetery. Family and friends served as pallbearers.
In lieu of flowers contributions are requested to be made to the Jeanette C. Rudy School of Nursing at Cumberland University or to the Dan Rudy Cancer Center at Saint Thomas Hospital.