Richard Eldridge Dudley

Died: July 26, 2016
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Dick Dudley has passed on. He died Tuesday, July 26, at Kaiser hospital in Oakland, surrounded by family and friends. Dick is survived by his wife Anna Carol; his siblings Winston Dudley, Robert Dudley, and Constance Rumely; his sons Shannon, David, and Justin; daughters-in-law Marisol Berríos-Miranda and Susan Sprigg-Dudley; and grandchildren Agueda Dudley-Berríos, Gabriel Dudley-Berríos, Emma Dudley, Maxwell Sprigg-Dudley, and Margaret Sprigg-Dudley.

Dick was born in 1930 in Tamilnadu, India, where his parents were Congregational missionaries in the village of Aruppakottai. Fluent in both English and Tamil, he attended boarding school at Kodaikanal in the Palani hills until the age of 13. In 1943 his family returned to their native New England, where Dick went to high school in the Boston suburb of Newton. From 1947 to 1951 he attended Oberlin College and majored in history. He credited his experience at Oberlin with fueling his “inner demand that a humanly significant vocation somehow predominate over the frivolous lures of our affluent society.” A gifted athlete, Dick played varsity tennis and was captain and All American on the Oberlin soccer team.

From 1951 to 1954 Dick returned to South India on a fellowship from Oberlin College’s Shansi Memorial Association. At Pasumalai High School he taught English and organized a living cooperative, a challenging experiment in promoting “the cooperative idea” (which was currently in fashion at Oberlin) among students who were raised to associate tasks of cooking, cleaning, etc. with caste and gender roles. He spent his third year at Gandhi Gram, a Gandhian village development and teacher training institution, helping to build a cooperative leatherwork center and interacting with diverse activists in the Indian national development movement. In 1954 he returned to Oberlin for one more year to study and to promote the Shansi program.

During his time as a Shansi representative, Dick also fell in love with Anna Carol Kingdon, whom he had met singing in the choir at Oberlin and who also served as a Shansi rep at OCPM elementary school in Madurai. Romance was in the air for Shansi in those years: Dick and Anna Carol became close to married Shansi reps Joe and Joann Elder, and they also travelled around India with Shansi rep Dave Gallup and Padmasanni Jothimuttu, who came along to teach them Tamil and ended up marrying Dave. These family friendships would last a lifetime and continue into the next generation.

Dick was drafted by the U.S. Army and served two years at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, 1955-1957. Although he was voted soldier of the month, he did not recall the experience fondly. He didn’t like being trained to kill, and more generally Dick was averse to any kind of pressure—be it military, religious, or political—to follow unquestioningly. While at Fort Sill he married Anna Carol, and upon his discharge from the Army he moved with her to Berkeley to begin graduate study in political science at the University of California.

At UC Berkeley Dick embarked on a career as a scholar of Indian politics, but when his advisor, Richard Park, left for another university, Dick’s enthusiasm for research waned. After considering a career in the Foreign Service, he took a job as professor of political science at Diablo Valley College in Pleasant Hill, where he served until his retirement in 1994. He served as chair of the Social Sciences Division, and was remembered by fellow faculty as an exceptionally fair, gentle, and collaborative colleague. One colleague recalled “his incredibly wry sense of humor, understated, hilarious, and, yes, the most honest man on campus.”

From 1968 to 1971 Dick took a two-year leave to serve as the coordinator of the University of Wisconsin’s year-in-India study abroad program, directed by his friend and UW sociology professor Joe Elder. Students whom he guided there remember him as “a wonderful friend and a deep and unusual human being,” “one of the big trees in the forest,” and an asli admi who “lived a good life as a true man.” Living in Delhi and spending summers in Kodaikanal, he introduced his sons Shannon and David to the country of his birth, which also became his son Justin’s country of birth. Shannon would later return to India as an Oberlin Shansi rep himself.

Dick shared many other enthusiasms that shaped the lives of his offspring, including a love of sports, hiking, camping, sailing, and woodworking. Married to a professional singer, he was a devoted fan of Anna Carol’s, and of music generally. He had a keen ear for classical music, with a special fondness for Brahms, and his melodious whistling colored the soundscape of the family home. Settled in his living room armchair, he read the New York Times and watched the PBS News Hour every day, and he could always be counted on for an informed and balanced review of current events and issues. Anna Carol called him her “moral compass.” Dick and Anna Carol also shared their appreciation for language and good writing with their sons, all three of whom combine art, intellect, and activity in their professional careers. In the lives of his grandchildren he was a towering and loving figure. On the day of his passing, Emma remembered him simply as “my hero.”

Memorial services will be held for Dick on Sunday, August 28, at the First Congregational Church of Berkeley, at 1 P.M.

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Service Schedule

Memorial Information

Date: Sunday, August 28, 2016

Time: 1:00 pm

First Congregational Church


2345 Channing Way, Berkeley, CA, 94704

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Died: July 26, 2016

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Helen McCune Lawless posted on 8/18/16

We'll be there. All my love to you and your kids. I miss you. Love. Helen McCune


Joann Elder posted on 8/21/16

Oberlin College friends, member of our wedding party, traveled many miles together throughout India, 1951-53, and again our two families together made a tour of India in the '80's. A special and valued friend throughout our lives. Joann Elder


Helen McCune Lawless posted on 8/18/16

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