Earle Leighton Rudolph, October 26, 1917~July 21, 2016

Earle Leighton Rudolph died on Thursday, July 21, 2016.

He was born on October 26, 1917, at Gurdon, Arkansas and grew up in Arkadelphia. After finishing Arkadelphia High School in 1934, he attended the University of Arkansas. While completing graduate degrees at Harvard University he taught at Rice University, Harvard, and MIT. After finishing the doctorate he returned to the University of Arkansas in 1947 and remained until retirement in 1988. Among his particular interest were the University library and particularly the Fayetteville Public Library.

He was predeceased by his wife Marjorie Holt Rudolph (2005) to whom he was married in 1943 and his daughter Barbara Ann Rudolph (2011). He is survived by his son Earle L. Rudolph (Carol) of Alexandria Va. and daughter Karen Rudolph Shoffner (Terry) of Toronto, and three grandsons: Earle L. Rudolph III, Wade Rudolph (Samantha), and Sam Shoffner.

A memorial celebration will be announced at a later date.

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Condolences (16)

    Judith and Daniel Levine » 23. Jul, 2016

    We are sad to learn of Leighton’s death. He was quite a guy. We enjoyed both of them. Leighton’s wry sense of humor was the topic of discussion at many a dinner party in our house. We will miss him. May all your memories of him be great ones.
    Judith and Daniel Levine

    Gabriele (Gay) Boys » 23. Jul, 2016

    Dear Karen, Butch, Terry, Carol, Sam, Guy and Wade,

    It was a pleasure and privilege to have spent the past eleven years and nine months helping Leighton and getting to know all of you. To Leighton, my dear companion, I hope you’re living out your favorite quote, “In heaven there’ll be no algebra, no learning dates and names, but only playing golden harps and reading Henry James.

    ‘Til we meet again,
    Love, Gay

    Robin McIsaac » 24. Jul, 2016

    My sympathies, Karen, to you and your family, your father enjoyed a long and rich life. One of my favourite memories of him visiting here in Toronto was at the Royal Canadian Military Institute comparing his personal extensive library on the American Civil War to their meagre collection. Let’s celebrate his life when you get back.

    William Mayes Flanagan » 24. Jul, 2016

    Hello, Terry,

    I read today about your father-in-law’s death, and I wish I could have known him. From what you’ve told me and what I’ve read, he sounds like an interesting person. I know this is a great loss. My sympathy to you and your family.


    Name » 24. Jul, 2016

    I lucked into Dr. Rudolph’s class in a requisite course as a young student at the U of A in the mid 70′s. It was so enjoyable that I later returned to an elective with him. Much of what we covered has remained with me; no other professor could have done that. He was such a wonderful and great guy. I wish I could do it again.

    Alan Breedlove
    Fayetteville, AR

    Ethel Simpson » 24. Jul, 2016

    Sincere condolences [sic] to the family of Leighton Rudolph from one of his students and a collaborator in some of his work.

    Dr. Rudolph encouraged me to pursue Arkansas studies from my position in the University Libraries’ Arkansas collection. He provided me with opportunities for research and publication that I might never have undertaken without his guidance. He was an invaluable resource regarding the history of the University for most of the twentieth century. On a lighter note, I think he never met a middle name he didn’t like. His myriad former students will know what I mean. Rest in peace, Leighton.

    marquette Bruce » 24. Jul, 2016

    My mind overflows with quotes and humorous phrases Leighton was found of delivering. Often during my days, I think of his wit, charm, and opinions. I was fortunate to have my path converge with his. We shared many jovial visits. He, as we all know, was the last of an era. Leighton was a true intellectual “Renaissance” man despite his disdain for music. I adored him. Often after one of our conversations he had me “google” to fact check. He was my Google!

    During my last two weeks with him, he mentioned several times that Marjorie had recently visited him. She stood by his bed. I want to think that they were and are in touch. No one has ever had such a devoted family. His children and their families spared nothing to attend to his needs, and they did so from great distances from Fayetteville. He often expressed his appreciation to me. He was proud of his three children and grand children.

    Leighton said he lived by the code of “do no harm!” I say he was pure inspiration from head to toe and his life made a big difference to mine! RIP, Leighton. I’ll stop and sit in the garden at St. Paul’s from time to time, Your Fiery Red-Head

    michael bidwell » 25. Jul, 2016

    Earle Jr. and family-Please accept my sincerest condolences.I had not seen the name Earle Rudolph Jr.in about 48 yrs. Hope everything will be well with you and yours.Sincerely,Michael Bidwell

    Missy McCutcheon Milton » 28. Jul, 2016

    Professor Rudolph was a great man. He taught me writing skills which served me in good stead for decades. He also had a great wit which made me always look forward to the next time I’d see him. My sincere condolences are with the family.

    Dorothy Stephens » 29. Jul, 2016

    Ever since we heard the news, faculty in Kimpel Hall have been walking around trading stories about Leighton. He had the best straight face of anyone I know, because instead of being impassive, his straight face was a little grin that invited the viewer to guess whether he was being slightly ironic, agreeing with what had just been said, or telling a whopping lie. After I came to the faculty in 1992, it took me several years to realize there was no point in trying to figure out whether Leighton in a story-telling mood was leading me down the garden path; the point was to enjoy what he was doing with words.

    Another whole set of memories revolves around his and Marjorie’s habit of not simply opening the door to kids and their adult chaperones on Halloween but inviting them in.

    It’s hard to process the fact that Leighton and Marjorie are both gone.

    Kay DuVal » 29. Jul, 2016

    Although we’d known Leighton since 1970, it wasn’t until 1997, when I invited him and Margery to help us start a Shakespeare Reading Group, that we became friends. Those evenings when we ambushed a play and then enjoyed a dinner–the four of us, John and Rebecca Harrison, Dick and Jo Bennett, and Malcolm and Ellen Hayward–remain treasured memories. We still miss his witticisms and historical anecdotes. When he read Shakespeare aloud, he read it with authority and full comprehension of the sense and the verse. He could still tell us stories about his past or details about local or national events that we’d never heard. And he never told the same story twice. What a memory. What a man. What a friend. With love to the family, kd

    John DuVal » 29. Jul, 2016

    Dear Karen, Terry, Butch, Carole, and grandchildren,

    Please accept our condolences. Considering how much Kay and I miss Leighton, we can imagine what a huge hole his absence must make in your lives. We are deeply sorry. With your indulgence, I’d like to share a few memories:
    If I remember right, at Harvard Leighton studied Medieval literature, but wrote his dissertation on American literature, graduating with a strong grip on both eras and a wealth of facts that he never forgot, not even in his nineties. Though I myself am a medievalist, I found him to be better than Wikipedia for checking out facts I needed for my research or teaching.
    I remember his good job of overseeing us graduate students in the World Literature courses we taught during the seventies. I remember the serious look he fastened on me, informing me that one student on the class evaluation had made a short but telling comment: “He rides a bicycle.” Dr. Rudolph continued to hold me with his steely stare, waiting for me to defend myself. After he retired, he continued to serve the English Department as the liaison with Mullins Library for ordering books and magazines.
    In addition to all his memories of medieval and American literature and history, what I enjoyed best were his personal memories of Germany, 1936, Harvard during the war years, and the University of Arkansas English Department. As he got older, in his mid-nineties, he did have to apologize from time to time for not remembering a detail or two out of the myriad that I would have long forgotten. One thing that never failed was his good humor. I will miss him sorely and cherish warm memories of him.

    Karen Lentz Madison » 29. Jul, 2016

    I am so sorry for your loss of your dad, Butch and Carol. Leighton was one of the most brilliant and generous professors I have ever met. I don’t think I ever asked him a literary question that he did not have the answer for, and I never ran into him without learning something interesting and significant. During his last semester teaching, he allowed me, as an undergraduate, to sit in on his Melville-Hawthorne graduate seminar–but only if I would read all the papers the students wrote, along with keeping up with the readings. It was in his class that I knew for sure that I wanted to go on to graduate school to teach, mentor, and encourage students to reach their potential the way he had done. One last thing–there was never a time that he did not take the time to talk to me or anyone else, and I’ll never forget the tremendous gift of a friend that I had in Leighton Rudolph.

    Przybysz & Associates » 05. Aug, 2016

    With heartfelt condolences and kindest thoughts in your time of sorrow.

    From all of us at Przybysz & Associates, CPA

    Joe and Anne Marie Candido » 12. Aug, 2016

    To the entire Rudolph Family,

    Words cannot really express, of course, how much we already feel Leighton’s passing. As you well know, he was for us a real, long-time friend, neighbor, colleague, local learned (and Democratic) sage. He brought wisdom and amusement to all of us and was also a very uncomplaining man who endured losses of loved ones, discomforts, accidents, aches, and pains, with genteel stoicism.

    When we told Jean and Nick about Leighton’s passing, they both eagerly shared fond remembrances of him. They asked us to pass on their condolences. Needless to say, the entire Candido family will miss Leighton and feel the vacuum around the corner, but we will also cherish his memory.

    With great affection,
    Joe & Anne Marie

    Name » 25. Sep, 2016

    Leighton was my teacher, my colleague, and my friend.

    Shortly before BA died, she wrote to me: “I love you and know you love the Rudolphs one and all.” Yes, one and all. But I know Marjorie and Leighton best, of course, for 60 years. It was 1950 or ‘51 when I had Leighton’s US literature survey, which along with other courses in the College of Arts and Sciences helped extricate me from my past and turn me to a better direction. To the extent our country is capable of critical thinking, realism, satire, and sanity, I partly thank US literature, and so I thank Leighton for introducing me to the best. “Democracy is four wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch.” I can hear him laughing now. But Ambrose Bierce’s The Devil’s Dictionary was merely a light introduction to the experiences ahead in Twain and Melville, Dreiser, Steinbeck, Faulkner, et al.
    Hearing of a riverboat explosion, Aunt Sally asked, “Anybody hurt?” Huckleberry replied: “No’m. Killed a nigger.” But “nigger” Jim was the best person depicted in the novel, as Huckleberry learns. Elsewhere Twain wrote: “We do not intend to free but to subjugate the people of the Philippines. And so I am an anti-imperialist. I am opposed to having the eagle put its talons on any other land…. We have pacified some thousands of the islanders and buried them, destroyed their fields, burned their villages, and turned their widows and orphans out of doors… The White Man’s Burden has been sung. Who will sing the Brown Man’s?”

    Thank you Leighton for introducing me to significant critical thinking about our society. In the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Arkansas, 1949-53, I was introduced to the critical literature of a culture of truth, peace, and justice. And we wondered why such literature was not taught K-12, and I can see him laughing now.

    Only later, after returning here to be Leighton’s colleague in 1965, did I meet and also enjoy Marjorie’s company. She was diminutive and soft-voiced, but she glowed with energy and principles that carried her to become a teacher of Russian and to travel to Russia and the world repeatedly during the Cold War. Think of her (with Sylvia) on the trans-Siberian railroad. Even more astonishing, imagine her in Beijing joining her voice with those of other women of the world. I cannot think of a stronger seeker of equity in Fayetteville. And Leighton supported her in every trip, every venture, for women (written on Women’s Equality Day 2016, celebrating the 19th Amendment).

    I’ll lift a glass to you this afternoon Leighton, and henceforth, until I join you in Mark Twain’s heaven.