Lucille Rudolph: ‘100 years loved’

Photo by Traci Westcott/The Herald
Northwood resident Lucille Rudolph paints a landscape of a farm in her room at the retirement community in Jasper on Tuesday. Lucille is celebrating her 100th birthday today. Her days are filled with reading, Bible study, phone calls from family and painting. "I'm not very good at it anymore, but I enjoy it. And that's the most important part," Lucille said. Her current painting reminded her of the farm she used to live on with her late husband, Gwen.


JASPER — The walls of Lucille (Baker) Rudolph’s room at Jasper’s Northwood Retirement Community are dotted with paintings she’s created and photographs of family members — artifacts displaying a life well-lived. As she brushed away on a canvas Wednesday, she casually talked about her plans for her upcoming birthday, which happens to be today.

At 100 years old, Rudolph has officially crossed into triple digits.

Physically healthy and mentally sharp, she is thankful. She admits she doesn’t know the secret to living as long as she has. But she has an idea what could help.

“Hard work don’t hurt,” she said. “I didn’t realize I worked hard, but as I look back, I think I did. At the time, you don’t realize it. You just do it.”

Rudolph isn’t interested in bingo or television. She instead spends her days painting, reading books and the newspaper, working out word scramble puzzles, going to Bible study and talking to loved ones on the phone.

She was born in Reeve Township — across the river from Portersville — and attended Alfordsville High School. Some of her earliest memories are of her and her six siblings push-mowing their yard on a lawnmower during weekends.

“We didn’t think we had life hard,” Rudolph said. “And we didn’t, I don’t think.”

She was the second-youngest. Now, she is the last one living.

When Rudolph was 16, she met her future husband, Gwen Rudolph, while they both worked at a tomato canning factory. They caught each other’s eyes, and dated for two years before tying the knot.

They were married for 75 years that were filled with love, hard work and travel. Lucille has memories of helping Gwen — who many knew as Rudy — on the family’s Dubois County farm in Boone Township, near Pike County.

“We did a lot of square dancing,” Lucille recalled of their relationship. “And we farmed. When he went to the field, quite often, I went too. And I had a different tractor than he did, so I helped him a lot.”

The Lord was good to them, she said. And she gives God credit for their long marriage and the happiness it brought them.

Gwen died in 2013 at the age of 95. The two had four children: Sharon Held of Lafayette, Jim Rudolph of Jasper, Ed Rudolph of North Carolina and the late John Rudolph. They have given their mother many grandchildren, great-grandchildren and even a great-great-grandchild.

Earlier this month, many of her descendents from across the country came to the Northwood campus for a party preemptively celebrating Lucille’s milestone birthday. She’ll spend her birthday outside of Northwood with family.

Scattered across her room are visual symbols of the world’s love for Lucille. A huggable stuffed cow wearing a shirt that reads, “Holy cow” and “You’re 100!” with printed hearts. A basket with more than 150 birthday cards — some of them from people who Lucille doesn’t recognize. And on a wall hangs a big banner with a picture of Lucille when she was in her 30s, as well as one that was taken more recently.

On the poster is a simple phrase of affection.

“100 years loved,” it says.

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