Rudman Jenness Ham, 90, Retired Children’s Hospital Vice President of Operations

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NATICK – Rudman Jenness “Rud” Ham, 90, of Natick, passed away quietly at the Mary Ann Morse Nursing Home on Monday, January 24, 2022.

Rud woke up that morning singing and in good cheer – exemplifying how he lived his entire life of 90+ years.

Rud was a humble man of integrity and charm. He was a beloved husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, facilitator, innovator, positive presence, and a man of faith.

Rud was born on July 22, 1931 in Dover, New Hampshire to Harold R. and Judith (Jenness) Ham. His father passed away when Rud was a boy, which would guide him toward prioritizing home and family throughout his life. He grew up in Durham and Rochester, NH in a Quaker family and attended Westtown Friends School in Pennsylvania, his mother’s alma mater, graduating in 1949.

Rud was not known for his academics, and the headmaster recommended that Rud “become a farmer.” Instead Rud attended and graduated in 1953 from the University of New Hampshire with a degree in economics. As a conscientious objector, Rud then served for two years under the auspices of the International Volunteer Services (IVS).  Rud, his fellow volunteers, and 20 prize bulls traveled to the remote mountain village of Shaqlawa in the Kurdish Mountains of Northern Iraq via Dutch freighter, train, and truck.  There they cleaned up water supplies, grew demonstration crops and improved the local cattle stock. The bright-eyed calves that followed amazed and delighted their Kurdish friends.  

He returned home three months before the end of his service because his mother was ill. Serendipity saw Rud assigned to work as an orderly at the local hospital. While there the hospital administrator suggested Rud pursue a career in hospital administration, and introduced him to one of his best fishing pals, an administrator at Boston Children’s Hospital.

This led to Rud’s extraordinary career at Children’s Hospital, starting in the mail room in 1956 and retiring 39 years later as Vice President of Operations in 1995. Rud’s motto at work was true to the purpose of Children’s Hospital – “will it help the kids?” Innovations by Rud included the planning, fundraising, and construction of the hospital’s main building, the first parents/family advisory council, and opportunities for parents to stay both with their children at the hospital and nearby in homes like the Boston and Providence Ronald McDonald Houses and The Boston House.  

One of Rud’s many accomplishments while at the Children’s Hospital was the formation of the Medical, Academic, Scientific Community Organization (MASCO), bringing together hospitals and colleges in the Fenway/Longwood area of Boston to enhance their buying and negotiating power. Involved for 30 years, he served as president and later chairman of the board.  He also established the Children’s Hospital Archives Endowment Fund.

On December 28, 1957 Rud married Ruth Alden; they met at Children’s Hospital where she worked as a secretary. Together Rud and Ruth raised a family of five children. Rud was always busy but found time for fun things like teaching the children to ski and helping with creative school assignments. He spent more than 80 summers on Moody Beach in Maine with his mother and then his family jumping and naming the waves – “rollers, spankers, crashers”. He taught his children and grandchildren the Ogden Nash poem “The Sea-Gull and the Ea-Gull”, and enjoyed annual trips to The Goldenrod in York Beach. The Scoop Deck in Wells was a favorite destination, as was any ice cream shop. Rud never met a sweet he didn’t like! Ruth was a much-loved and supportive wife and mother for 42 years, who brought beauty and creativity to their lives.  She patiently cultivated an exquisite perennial garden at their home on Pleasant Street in South Natick, and designed and created needlepoint wedding and birth samplers for her children and grandchildren. Ruth passed away on July 31, 2000.

Subsequently Rud met Judith “Judie” Beard through mutual friends.  Their common background in the Longwood medical community, a joint positive outlook, and love of laughter brought them together. Rud and Judie were married on September 22, 2002. He frequently remarked that he had the good fortune to marry two wonderful women.  For the next 19+ years, they enjoyed life together, decorating cookies and gingerbread houses with their families on holidays, and traveling to Italy, the Panama Canal and many places in the United States. Their favorite trips were their twice-yearly visits to his daughter Jennifer in CA, where they ventured up and down the California Coast, to the beaches, Yosemite, Portland, OR, Seattle, WA and many other places. Back home they traveled to the sports games, school performances, dance recitals, and concerts of their beloved grandchildren no matter where they took place.

During and following his career at Children’s Hospital, Rud took on numerous volunteer leadership responsibilities. Rud was a member of the Fidelity Non-Profit Management Foundation Board from 1979-2015, including time served as Chairman. He was a founder, board member, and the first Chair of the Fidelity Charitable Board, serving from 1991 until 2010. This was the first donor-advised charitable fund, and Rud was the perfect person to lead it.  His approach was – “It’s not our goal to collect dollars, but to get them distributed to where they can help.” In recognition of his invaluable service, he was named Trustee Emeritus in 2010. Rud served on the board of the Lincoln and Moses Brown Schools in Providence, RI as a representative of the New England Yearly Meeting. He was a founder of the Board of Trustees for the Fenway High School, a public pilot school in Boston. He also served on the boards of the Martha Eliot and Dimock Community Health Centers in Boston.  

Closer to his home in Natick, Rud was a long-time member of the Middlesex Savings Bank Board of Trustees where he championed the election of several women to the Board. The Middlesex Savings Charitable Foundation was established at his insistence, and he served as a trustee from 2011-2017. He also served on the boards of the Bacon Free Library, the Foundation for MetroWest (formerly Crossroads Community Foundation) and the Natick Historical Society. Rud was instrumental in starting the Natick Community Organic Farm Advisory Board and served as both a member and Chair. He was previously a member of the Natick Center Associates and The Center for Arts in Natick boards, and served on the Leonard Morse Hospital Building Committee. Finally, Rud lived his faith by being a steady, long-time member of the Wellesley Friends Meeting, serving in all roles in which his help could be useful.  

Many words have been used to accurately describe Rud – dignified, wise, gentle, dedicated, warm, and quick with his wonderful sense of humor. He was a conscientious leader. When Rud retired from Children’s Hospital, one of the physicians told him to never let retirement get in the way of his work. Rud’s life demonstrates that he took this advice to heart. The world is a better place because of the positive impact Rud had on anyone who was blessed to know him. 

In addition to his wife Judie, Rud is survived by his much loved “five good children” (his response when  asked what he wanted for Christmas):  H. Rudman “Rud” (Jan), Richard (Judit), and Sarah (Jim) of Massachusetts, Jennifer of California, and Rebekah (Russell) of Rhode Island; 8 grandchildren, Joshua, Rachael (Lee), Matthew, Fiona, Emily, Grace, Eric, and Esmae; 3 great-grandchildren, Hannah, Ellie,  and Alex; 2 step-children Beth (Jon) and Andrew (Jennifer); and 2 step-grandchildren Calvin and Dylan. Rud’s only sibling Judith and his great-grandson Thomas predeceased him.  

His family is grateful for the loving care his aide and friend Joan Hugenberger provided for more than 7 years, and to Kara Harvey of the Constance Rose House day program, Julie Irvine of the Julia Ruth House Day Program, the staff at Sunrise in Wayland, and the dedicated Mary Ann Morse Nursing and Rehabilitation staff on the Birch Unit as well as all of the employees there who work tirelessly to make it a warm, welcoming and safe place for residents. Brookhaven Hospice provided comfort and support in his final weeks.

Rud will be laid to rest during a private burial service at Glenwood Cemetery in South Natick.

A celebration of his life will be held on June 12 with details of time and place to be determined.  Contributions to honor Rud’s memory may be made to the Natick Community Organic Farm or the Archive Endowment Fund at Boston Children’s Hospital. You may donate to NCOF at: https://ncof.givecloud.co/barnrebuild, or mail your check to Natick Community Organic Farm Barn Relief Fund, 117 Eliot St., Natick, MA 01760. To donate to the Archive Endowment Fund, go to www.bostonchildrens.org/giveinmemory,  or mail your check, payable to Boston Children’s Hospital, to Boston Children’s Hospital Trust, 401 Park Drive Suite 602, Boston, MA 02215-5301. Please include Rud’s name in the check’s memo line.

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