Rudyard M. Colter died on July 17, 2017, in Shelburne. At 99 years, Rud’s long life was characterized by immense intellectual curiosity, professional achievement, a sense of adventure, concern for community, and personal kindness. Since he experienced a broken home as a child, he was determined to raise a family in a loving, supportive environment—something he regarded as his greatest accomplishment.
Rud and his wife Janet grew up and met in South Orange, N.J. Their 70-year marriage was remarkable for its mutual devotion. After teaching flying for the U.S. Navy during World War II, Rud found success as the prime salesperson for New York Subways Advertising. His love of flying turned to a love of boating with his family.
In 1976, Rud and Jan moved to Vermont where he contributed his marketing expertise to Vermont Public Television, the Vermont Symphony Orchestra, the Peru Country Fair, the Wake Robin Tag & Book Sale, and several political campaigns in the state. He was a tireless advocate for Vermont’s death with dignity law and took much satisfaction in its adoption.
Although he never finished college, Rud was passionately drawn to literature, theatre and music. Rud and Jan traveled extensively and sampled many educational travel tours. They found a final home at Wake Robin Life Plan Community, where Rud volunteered in the woodshop, teaching women skills they’d been denied the opportunity to learn in the days when “shop” was restricted to school boys. He and the “Sawdust Sisterhood” made furniture and displays for Shelburne Farms and for refugee housing in Burlington. He also assisted Jan in producing live musicals acted by Wake Robin community members, bringing much fun and laughter.
He is preceded in death by his wife Janet Colter, and brothers Carter and Henry Colter. He is survived by his children, Carter, Carolee, and Christopher Colter; grandchildren Elissa, Evan, and Lilia; and great-grandchildren Isabella, Hadley, Zoe, Violet, and Treysen.
Contributions in the name of Rudyard Colter can be sent to Vermont PBS or the American Civil Liberties Union.