Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Mr. Mayor

Some people live their lives in such a way as to make me want to live a better life.
Rudy Burgess was one of those people.
Rudy, who was 84, died on Monday. The Altavista community is less because of his death, but more because of the life he lived.

Rudy was a public servant. He started serving on the Altavista Town Council in 1972 and did so for 40 years. For 28 of those years, he was the town mayor. He didn't run for re-election in 2012.
Until his retirement in 1993, he also worked a full-time day job.
Rudy was not a politician. He loved Altavista, and he served the people of Altavista.

He was one of the first people I met when I moved to Altavista in 2003 after Larry and I got married. He and Larry knew each other—Rudy knew everyone—and I quickly learned that this was a man who always spoke when he saw you, always had something funny to say, and always wanted to hear your opinions about things.

After I started working for the Altavista Journal, I had more opportunities to see Rudy. Though I didn’t usually cover Altavista government, I’d see him at events and discovered more evidence of the love Rudy had for his community.

In 2010, I had the privilege of interviewing Rudy and his wife for an article about long-lasting marriages I did for a special bridal section. At that time, they had been married for 60 years. I loved hearing their stories about their married life and the ways they worked together as a team. They stayed busy with children, church, work and Town Council, but they never forgot each other.

I reread that story yesterday and looked through some photos the newspaper has collected of Rudy over the years. I remembered the joke he used to tell people, that every time his picture was used in the Journal, he was paid $500.

Service to others, dedication to one’s work, love for one’s family, faith—Rudy personified these values. And thinking about him and his life makes me want to do better.

God bless Rudy Burgess.

I don’t have any photos of Rudy that I can share on my blog, but here are some photos of the town he loved. They were taken mostly on a Sunday morning, so there’s not a lot of traffic.

Who makes you want to live a better life?


  1. Oh this is a lovely tribute to an obviously good man. Hug B

  2. Sounds like he was quite the pillar of the community.

  3. Wow -- how lucky you were to have known such a remarkable man. People who do these good things leave such an indelible mark. I'm sad for you and your community with this loss and yes, glad that he lived. So well stated!

  4. sounds like a wonderful man! bless his wife and the whole community who will feel his absence.

  5. The world needs more Rudys. From the photos of Altavista, it looks like Rudy did a terrific job to maintain a beautiful town. You're written a very meaningful tribute to Rudy.

  6. what a lovely tribute and a simply beautiful place!! the hubs makes me want to be a better person!!

    and all my blogging friends.....i aspire to be the person you peeps think i am ;)

  7. Altavista looks like a beautiful town ... and what a beautiful man and life you've described. He sounds like an exceptional person.

  8. Your community has lost someone very special. Your tribute is very touching.

    My husband is my inspiration to be my best. He's a saint in my eyes. :)

  9. The world could definitely use more Rudy's in it! Alta Vista is very fortunate that he made his home there!

  10. My son, the bravest young man I know, absolutely makes me want to live a better life.Great post, Tina!

  11. What a beautiful library.
    What a beautiful town.
    I can see why Rudy decided it was a place worth investing in . . it look like a place a soul could feel refreshed.
    Thank you for sharing about Rudy. Now his memory will bless my days . . . What a Gift.

  12. What a great tribute, Tina, and I absolutely love these photos!!!

  13. What a lovely way to honor a wonderful man. Sure wish I could have met him.


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