R.I.P. Rudy

Rudy Bodenschatz may have died this past Tuesday, June 1st, but his memories will remain with us. For many years, Rudy served the Lutheran Heritage Center & Museum as a docent. When I first moved to Altenburg 11 years ago and became a docent myself, I would occasionally be paired with Rudy for a day. With Rudy around, even if we had no visitors coming through the doors of the museum, it was never a dull day. Rudy would fill the time telling stories. Rudy was a great storyteller, and his past was filled with great stories to tell. Sometimes, when folks get old, they tend to repeat their stories because they forget who they had previously told the stories to. That was not so with Rudy. I honestly do not remember any time when Rudy repeated a story. They were always new and entertaining, and while Rudy told them, he would always have a smile on his face, and would often break out in laughter.

I managed to find a few documents for Rudy and will attempt to relate some details of his life in this post today. Rudolf Anton Bodenschatz was born on August 17, 1926, the son of Oscar and Paula (Schuessler) Bodenschatz. Rudy was baptized at Immanuel Lutheran Church in New Wells, Missouri. An image of his baptism record from that congregation’s books is displayed below.

Rudy Bodenschatz baptism record – Immanuel, New Wells, MO

Rudy shows up in the 1930 census at the age of 4. He was the oldest child in his family, and his father was a farmer.

1930 census – Shawnee Township, MO

Since we cannot view census entries after 1940 yet, the one taken in 1940 is the last one in which we can find Rudy. He was a teenager. Rudy had one brother and two sisters.

1940 census – Shawnee Township, MO

In the 1940’s, Rudy had a World War II draft card completed. Rudy was 18 years old at the time, and the form says he was working on a farm for Otto Meyer, although I think it was Otto Meyr.

Rudy Bodenschatz – WWII draft card

Rudy’s later obituary would state that he served his country toward the end of World War II. He served in the U.S. Navy Seabees from January 5, 1945 till June 19, 1946. After the war, Rudy married Wilma Tiedemann on September 7, 1951. I was unable to find a civil marriage record for this wedding, and our records from Immanuel, New Wells do not include marriages that occurred that recently. Based on what I know about Rudy and Wilma, it is almost certain that they were married in the congregation in which they were both baptized and confirmed.

Wilma Clara Tiedemann was born on September 5, 1930, the daughter of Rudolph and Clara (Braeuner) Tiedemann. Like Rudy, Wilma was baptized at Immanuel Lutheran Church in New Wells. Her baptism record is shown below.

Wilma Tiedemann baptism record – Immanuel, New Wells, MO

Wilma did not make it into the 1930 census, so the first and only one we can view that includes her was the one taken in 1940.

1940 census – Shawnee Township, MO

A previous post titled, Keeping the Tiedemann Name Going, mentioned that the fact that this Tiedemann family had only girls, and therefore, this name came to an end around here.

Sometime after Rudy and Wilma were married, they moved to St. Louis. Rudy became a TV repairman for Famous-Barr Department Stores. He worked back in the days when a TV repairman would actually make house calls, carrying all the parts, like TV tubes, that were necessary to make the repairs. Many of the stories I heard Rudy tell involved his days at this job. He would tell about some of the wild and crazy people he would visit all over the St. Louis area, and even across the river in East St. Louis.

Another activity that inspired Rudy’s stories was dancing. Rudy and Wilma loved this activity, and would regularly travel around St. Louis to visit places where they could dance the night away. Although I never met Wilma, I can just imagine Rudy and her gliding gracefully across the dance floor enjoying each other’s company with big smiles on their faces.

After moving back to New Wells, Rudy, among other things, became a docent at our museum. This photo was taken of Rudy a few years back at the museum.

Rudy Bodenschatz

Wilma died in 2014 at the age of 83. I know Rudy missed her terribly after her death. He told me so. Below is Wilma’s obituary.

Wilma Bodenschatz obituary

Another talent that Rudy had was painting. Not just painting houses. He had real talent at doing very delicate painting as well as the painting of landscapes. I was blessed to see several of Rudy’s paintings. I saw one that he had been asked to do of the Loeber parsonage that once stood in Altenburg. After it was on display in our museum for a while, it was given to member of the Loeber family. We do have one of Rudy’s paintings being exhibited in our museum right now. A photo of it is shown below. It is a painting of the Log Cabin College as it may have looked before a pavilion was constructed over it to help preserve it.

Log Cabin College by Rudy Bodenschatz

After the altar, pulpit, and baptismal font were donated to our museum after St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Wittenberg closed, it was in bad need of a paint job. These items had been through several floods and were in bad shape. Rudy came to the rescue. He gave these worship artifacts a good paint job which involved quite intricate work. I think you would agree that he has made these items regain their original splendor.

St. Paul’s, Wittenberg artifacts

Rudy died this past week on June 1st at the age of 94. His obituary is shown here.

Rudy Bodenschatz obituary

Below are the two photos used when Wilma and Rudy’s obituaries were published.

Yesterday, Rudy’s friends and family gathered for his funeral and celebrated his life and entry into heaven. Rudy was buried with his wife in the Immanuel Lutheran Cemetery in New Wells. The gravestone shown below will soon have Rudy’s death date etched on it.

Rudy and Wilma Bodenschatz gravestone – Immanuel, New Wells, MO

I know we at the Lutheran Heritage Center & Museum can state firmly when remembering Rudy, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

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