ITHACA, N.Y. — Louie Rudin’s Facebook profile picture shows popular comic strip characters Calvin and Hobbes sledding down a hill.
“Let’s go exploring!” Calvin shouts in the comic to his friendly stuffed animal, Hobbes. “A great philosophy for daily living,” writes Rudin under the picture.
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During his life, Rudin spread an intertwined message of faith and joy, and spent much of his life helping others thrive on their own adventures. He did so most recently as the area director of Young Life, a Christian ministry that works with youth, in Tompkins County.
Rudin died on June 7 in the Chesterton House in Ithaca. He was 63.
Rudin grew up in Owego and studied biology at Cornell in the early 1970s. According to Rudin’s obituary, he first got involved with Young Life when he was still a student at the university.
Rudin’s friends say he formed close bonds with young men and women while with the program and throughout his personal life.
It was, for instance, standard for him to be a groomsman in the weddings of people half his age.
“He loved me, and everyone felt that way,” said Andrew Hocking, an engineer who roomed with Rudin for six years in Ithaca. “He wasn’t just like this with me, he was like this with everyone. It blows you away how that’s even possible.”
‘Louie would fix everything’
After graduating from Cornell, Rudin traveled to the seminary at Bethel University in Minnesota, where he earned a master’s degree in education and counseling before returning to New York to work at South Seneca in many capacities, including as a counselor, bus driver, and athletic coach.
In 2000, Louie came back to Ithaca and roomed with Hocking shortly after, focusing on his work with Young Life.
Hocking said that their landlord enjoyed Rudin more than anyone. “All the students [the landlord] rented to would trash the place, but Louie would fix everything.”
Paul Epp is the pastor of the English Congregation at the First Ithaca Chinese Christian Church in Ithaca. He said Rudin “invested decades in reaching out to youths that a lot of the Christian world overlooked and he inspired and equipped others to do the same — not only through his ministry of Young Life, but just by the life that he lived.”
Epp said, “I really think if there were more Christians like Louie, more people would be compelled to consider the Christian message.”
‘A smile would go across their face’
Rudin was strongly devoted to his faith and used that faith to enrich others. He had a small notebook of names; some were of people he was close with, and others were people whom he had just heard about from friends. He would open the journal and pray for these people every day.
At Rudin’s memorial service in June, Hocking spoke with a former Cornell student and Young Life leader who is now involved in a ministry on the west coast. The student said that in his daily life, he’s “just trying to do what Louie did.”
Hocking said that if someone was to go up to a random person in Ithaca—Christian or not—and mention Rudin, “A smile would go across their face and you’d hear a funny story. I think a lot of people are mourning.”