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James "Bud" Rudder Jr. '62 January 24, 2024 12:12 PM updated: January 24, 2024 12:24 PM

James Earl "Bud" Rudder, Jr. 

May 9, 1940 - January 17, 2024 

For those many fortunate individuals who came to know and love James Earl ‘Bud’ Rudder, Jr., life was richer, fuller, more fun, and certainly more fascinating. Bud’s signature infectious laugh and ever-sparkling eyes endeared him to legions of friends far and wide.

Bud was born in Stephenville, Texas to a delighted Margaret and Earl Rudder. He was the first of five Rudder children. The family ranch in Menard County, Texas was the starting point of a life of education and adventure for Bud. He learned leadership, perseverance, and reserve of temperament from his father and gleaned the social graces and joy of an endearing personality from his mother. The family moved to Austin when Bud was in the 10th grade.

Bud enrolled in Schreiner Institute in Kerrville, Texas his high school senior year. He excelled at Schreiner and graduated with 14 college credit hours as he entered his freshman year at Texas A&M University. Bud majored in accounting which came naturally to him, graduating in three years with a BBA in Accounting. His father was particularly happy that Bud finished A&M in three years reminding him that there were four more siblings behind him.

Degree in hand, the next stop was a commission as 2nd LT in the U.S. Army infantry at Ft. Benning, Georgia. Bud served in a variety of capacities including CO of Basic Training Company during the Cuban Missile Crisis. He left the military in September of 1963 and a short four days later, enrolled in the University of Texas Law School. In Bud’s own words ‘he lasted a year’, citing ‘too many distractions’ stemming from spending the past five years at A&M, then the military, without a girl to be found.

Bud’s first civilian job was as an accountant for the Texas State Auditor and then the University of Houston at which he excelled. The sales world was calling and Bud went to work for Volkswagen in Tulsa, Oklahoma. In the 70’s Bud moved up the VW ranks and soon was sales manager in Richardson, Texas. Later, his entrepreneurial instincts kicked in and he went into the used car business in Richardson until 1986 where he thrived, gaining hundreds of loyal customers and lifelong friends.

Land-locked Richardson, Texas, had everything Bud wanted, except the ocean. Bud was an excellent self-taught sailor. His love of sailing was calling and he decided to take a sabbatical and move to the sailing capital of the world, Newport, Rhode Island. But first, Bud needed an ocean going yacht. He found his dream boat, Windbourne, in New Orleans, Louisiana. Instead of shipping it to Newport, he gathered a group of adventurous buddies and promptly sailed across the gulf to Key West and then up the coast to his new home in Newport Harbor. He spent the next three years sailing and racing in regattas, including the demanding 635-mile Newport/ Bermuda Regatta. Drawn back to be near family and friends, Bud moved back to Dallas in 1989 where he entered the wholesale auto business.

In 2000, Bud came home and retired to Bryan, Texas. He found joy in visits to his many friends who reveled in his life stories and friendships and in reconnecting with his classmates and fellow Aggies. He spent time traveling across the US and Europe representing his father and the Rudder legacy and sharing Texas A&M history. Bud was an avid sports fan, attending Texas A&M and local high school football games. He made other people’s lives better with a smile, a funny joke or email, and a bag of pecans.

Bud’s passing was unexpected. He was preceded in death by his loving parents, Margaret and Earl Rudder and his younger sister, Jane Rudder Roach.

Bud is survived by his daughter, Shelly Perry, of Fayetteville, Arkansas and his granddaughter, Alexa Perry, of Atlanta, Georgia. He is also survived by sisters Anne Rudder Erdman of Lone Tree, Colorado; Linda Rudder Williams of Houston, Texas and brother, Bob Rudder of College Station, Texas. He is also survived by his former wife, Cathy Danielson Rudder and many nieces and nephews.

Bud was a devoted friend to dogs throughout his entire life. In his later years, he found joy in the companionship of his beloved dogs, Sadie and Lucy.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorial donations be made in memory of Bud Rudder to the Texas A&M Foundation, 401 George Bush Drive, College Station, Texas 77840. Online donations may be made at 


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