Rikki Rudd at 102

Beloved by Berkshire Arts Community

By: - Oct 07, 2015

Rikki Rikki Rikki Rikki with Barbara and Eric Rudd. Rudd Rudd Rudd Rikki Rikki Rikki

Before we met his Mom, Rikki who passed away on October 6 at 102, artist/ entrepreneur Eric Rudd assured me that I would be amazed. While Eric is notable for hyperbole in this case she met and exceeded every level of expectation.

Rikki was astonishing and truly loved by all those in the Northern Berkshires arts community who had the pleasure of knowing her.

Her appetite for life and its adventures knew no limits.

Celebrating her 90th birthday Rikki jumped out of an airplane.

To do that at any age is an accomplishment and feat of daring but at the age of 90 was simply unprecedented.

Residing in Florida, in her final years with the care of her grandson, Nikolai, Rikki made an annual visit to North Adams. Her birthday party was one of the much anticipated social gatherings of the summer season.

We attended a number of these celebrations. There were ever more candles on the cake. It would take great lung capacity to blow them all out. It was a metaphor for the enduring brightness of her inner flame.

Having passed the century mark this summer we introduced ourselves. Smiling warmly she didn’t quite know who we were but engaged us in a combination of both her native Danish as well as English. This summer she spoke German with my wife Astrid. It was among the languages she had mastered in many years of travel and journalism.

Rikki had a keen interest in seeing the world. It was a trait she shared with her son Eric and his wife Barbara. We were inspired to hear of her travels with them to India and Vietnam as well as regular visits to their winter home in Mexico.

Those of us who are now senior citizens were truly inspired by her stamina, optimism and pervasive humanity.

It is now more common to live for a century. But to do so with such stamina and zest is unprecedented. Spending time with her was always insightful and heart warming.

I asked Eric for a comment and he replied briefly as follows.

“After she sky-dived for her 90th birthday, Eric e mailed “(then) Senator Kerry, who was running for President of the United States, took a few minutes off (I know -  it was his staff but he still had to sign the letter) to send her a congratulatory letter. Her sky-diving event made the front pages of both the North Adams Transcript and the Berkshire Eagle, and was reported nationally by CNN.  Mom was an annual visitor to the Berkshires, embraced by all, and was an inspiration especially to those who were approaching their 90s.  One day, I hope that the ceramic art of my mother, as well as art created by her father and grandfather, will be exhibited in the Berkshires.”

The following statement was released by Rikki’s family.

Ulrica (Rikki) Rudd, 102, resident of Venice (FL) until more recently residing with her grandson in Englewood, having moved from the Washington D.C. area more than 40 years ago, died peacefully in the Venice Hospital on October 6.

Born in Copenhagen, Denmark on June 30, 1913, daughter of Olga Eggers and Anton Thomsen, Rikki moved to the United States while in her early 20s and studied journalism at Columbia University.  After a short marriage during which a daughter, Nina, was born, she met and married Irving G. Rudd and they had three sons, Lauren, Alan and Eric.  The Rudds lived in Washington D.C. and later in nearby Bethesda, MD until her husband’s retirement and their move to Venice.

Rikki was a professional potter, active with ceramic groups and showing in the Washington D.C. area and in Lynchburg, VA.  Upon her move to Venice, Rikki continued making pottery and sold her pots through Copenhagen Imports.

After her husband’s passing in 2003, Rikki decided to live life to the fullest.  She skydived at the age of 90, and participated in other aerial feats including para-sailing, hang-gliding, zip-lining, and flying in an Ultra-light.  She traveled extensively, including trips to Peru, Morocco, Greece, Russia, Tibet, China, Egypt, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Tanzania and other countries.  Annually, she vacationed with her son and daughter-in-law, Eric and Barbara, in the Berkshires and in Sayulita, Mexico.   She held the unofficial para-sailing record on the Puerto Vallarta beach, by going up when she was 98 ¾ (on the same day that she also zip-lined and just a few days after flying in an Ultra-light).

She was loved by all, and especially she loved anything with four paws.  She was an avid reader and it was a rare moment not to see her with a book on her lap.

In recent years, with dementia, she was cared for by her grandson, Nikolai Rudd, and lived with him in Englewood.  She also had joyful home care from Peg Rively, Damaris Amado, and Angelica Solero-Ortiz. 

She was predeceased by her husband, Irving, and her daughter, Nina.  She is survived by her sons, Lauren (Diane), Alan (Christina) and Eric (Barbara), as well as nine grandchildren, Laura, Anna, Jeremy, Michelle, Lael, Mikol, Tatiana, Thaddeus and Nikolai, as well as eleven great-grandchildren.  There are no memorial services planned.