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Remembering Rudolph Fuchs
RUDOLPH A. FUCHS 1905-1985
By Marie Caillet
We were all saddened by the death of Rudolph Fuchs (pronounced Fox) in the summer of 1985 at his home in Denton, Texas. His family remember him as their favorite brother and uncle in whose home they often gathered; his former students and co-workers at North Texas State University remember him as a dedicated art and weaving teacher and their friend; daylily people remember his yard full of hundreds of varieties of day lilies and his contributions to their group; iris growers remember him as always being at the national conventions and seeming to know everyone; all of us remember his good humor, his spontaneous piano playing and the hospitality of his home. Rudi had more friends than most people ever make in a lifetime. These were people he kept up with and corresponded with on a regular basis. His Christmas card list numbered 500 to 600 people and these were cards he designed and wove and made himself, then he addressed and wrote a personal note in each.
Rudi's garden came into bloom in early spring with flowering shrubs and daffodils, followed by months of many types of irises in bloom, then the wildflowers and daylilies. Later there were annuals to bloom and then chrysanthemums. In the winter he brought in the potted plants from his patio to line the 50 foot glass wall of his living room. Rudi was not a botanist nor a hybridizer and he rarely entered his flowers in shows. He grew plants and flowers because he enjoyed working in the soil and liked to see things grow and bloom. His vast collection of plants made his yard of several acres like a botanical or display garden with hundreds of new varieties of irises and day lilies added each year. Not wanting to dispose of old favorites, he moved them to the back to make way for the new. These were left to grow into big clumps of color or were rowed out to give away.
He attended conventions and toured gardens to see what he wanted to order. He often bought new introductions because he knew the hybridizers and did not want to slight them. It was not unusual for him to order and plant as many as 100 newly introduced varieties in a year. Commercial growers and hybridizers of irises and daylilies gave him good 'extras' for he was a good customer and the blooms were sure to be seen by hundreds of growers. His garden was always open to visitors and even strangers, driving along the street to look, usually parked and walked in. Most of the time Rudi could be found working in the garden — checking the bloom to record in his file, cleaning up leaves and stalks on clumps or on his knees pulling weeds.He refused to hire yard help, saying it would no longer be a hobby if he did not do the work himself. He never sold plants; sometimes he traded them but usually he gave them away.
One wonders how someone can tend such a large garden and for this to be only one of many hobbies. Rudi was an accomplished pianist and played for his own entertainment as well as for many parties, meetings and public functions. He played with a dance band, the Golden Eagles,
a group of older men who had played together off and on for over 50 years. Much of their playing was done free, such as for dances for the Senior Citizens in Denton. He had an excellent collection of records and sheet music that ranked as real collector's items, much of it going back to the early part of this century.
Rudi's teaching major at the University was also a lifetime hobby. He kept several looms threaded and worked at them whenever he found time, making bedspreads and draperies for his home and wall hangings and gifts for his family and friends. He wrote articles on weaving,
advised other weavers, judged weaving exhibits at art and craft shows and served as an officer in the Handweavers Guild of America for many years.
Rudi was a graduate of West Texas State University and Columbia University and did additional work at several design and weaving schools in Europe and the United States. He served in the Army from 1942 to 1946. When he retired from teaching in 1972, he changed from a paid worker to a volunteer. He was active in many organizations dealing with art, music, weaving and flower growing.He held offices in the Dallas and Fort Worth iris and daylily societies and in the Men's Garden Club in Denton. He kept a calendar marked with appointments and few days were ever blank.
There have been numerous newspaper and magazine articles written about Rudi and his accomplishments. Walter Moores, formerly of Fort Worth, named a tall bearded iris 'Rudi' in 1985. An iris garden in New Mexico, 'Rancho de la Flor de Lis' operated by Julian Wells and Larry Anaya, has a special garden dedicated to Rudolph Fuchs. It contains over 800 irises Rudi gave to the garden. After his death, 200 of his most recent iris acquisitions were donated by his family through the Iris Society of Dallas to the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden for a special planting in his memory. A scholarship has also been setup in his memory to be given to a Dallas area high school graduate for the study of horticulture at a university of his choice. The fund is administered by the American Iris Society Foundation.
Rudolph Fuchs left a legacy of good fellowship, kindness and generosity to everyone and enjoyment of life to the fullest. He will be missed by many but never forgotten by his multitude of friends.
Little Elm, Texas