William M. Rudolf

Hamden, Conn.

William M. Rudolf died peacefully at home on Feb. 27, 2022. His life was dedicated to his loving family, his work and philanthropy. Born in Frankfurt am Main, Germany in 1928, he immigrated to the United States from Sweden in 1940, evading Europe’s rising anti-Semitism, and naturalized as an American citizen in 1949. Son of Liese and renowned symphony orchestra conductor Max Rudolf, Bill was a lover of classical music and contemporary art alongside Edith (1926-2014, née Tanenbaum), his beloved wife of 60 years.

He graduated from New York University (1948) and NYU School of Law (1950). As a polyglot fluent in six languages, he was a natural fit in international commerce as a commodities broker and trading executive for many years, including being credited as the first American to trade in East Germany and behind the Iron Curtain. This experience negotiating abroad was fundamental to his later role as executive vice president of the National Committee on American Foreign Policy for 25 years (1983-2008), where he was instrumental in arranging talks with Sinn Féin’s Gerry Adams and then-President Clinton, as well as brokering talks in China. He spent his summers in Maine promoting groundbreaking scientific research and vital medicine as a trustee on the boards of both The Jackson Laboratory and Mount Desert Island Hospital, working tirelessly to fundraise on their behalf for many years. He greatly valued his association with the Pot and Kettle Club on Mount Desert Island, where he was a member since 1993.

Bill embodied wisdom, goodwill and generosity and will be deeply missed by all. He is survived by his children and their spouses, Leonard (Sylvie Rudolf), Paul and Margaret (Tom Coffey), 11 grandchildren and one great-grandchild. A service will be held this summer in Bar Harbor. In lieu of flowers, gifts may be made in his memory to Mount Desert Island Hospital (P.O. Box 8, Bar Harbor, ME 04609) or The Jackson Laboratory.


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