In Memory of Elizabeth Rudisill by Riley Humler.
I met Miss Elizabeth in the early 1970’s at an antique show in Lexington, Kentucky. She has the distinction of being my first “Rookwood Buddy” at a time when we were all wandering through the darkness, trying to find examples to buy, sell and collect. Elizabeth brought Rookwood to the show and we struck up a conversation which has endured for over 50 years. We would see each other infrequently at shows and it was not until the Glover Collection Auction in 1991 that we really got to communicate on a regular basis.
Elizabeth had a fondness for Southern things being from New Orleans so Newcomb Pottery was always a consideration and I didn’t know it at the time but her interest in the plight of Native Americans made Rookwood portraiture of Indians another love. It is important to note that in lieu of flowers, Elizabeth and family wanted remembrances made to St. Joseph’s Indian School in South Dakota, a place that deals with the ravages to the Lakota tribe which linger on today.
What was Elizabeth like? She was a classic Steel Magnolia. Her demeanor was that of a soft spoken woman of class who you just knew had grit and fire in her soul. I never had a cross word with her over anything and I knew that I didn’t want to because of her sweet good nature overlaying real strength of character . She trusted my judgement and I was ever so careful to keep that trust.
Our last fact to face meeting was about 5 years ago at her home. We covered a lot of old ground and enjoyed stories of buying and collecting. After an afternoon of pottery talk and exploration, we had dinner with daughter Becky Rudisill and promised to keep in closer touch. We had all three lost friends and family and the thought of any meeting being potentially our last always lingers.
Becky, Elizabeth and I chattered about pottery each time another auction rolled around, usually whether one of our Native American portraits was up to snuff.
In late 2018, Becky let me know that her Mom was slowing down at an alarming rate but with Becky’s help, we were able to have a phone conversation about 6 months ago. It was a good chat but melancholy because we both knew it might be our last which it was. Its so hard to say good bye when you know it might really be just that but we did and I am so glad Becky convinced Elizabeth to make that call.
One of the things that filters down to us as we age is the ability to recognize goodness in people. At some point we began to see through the trappings of society to what really matters in our friends. We peel away the superfluous stuff to see what genuinely is important and in this confusing age in which we live, it is critical to find those who are good inside and out. Not just rich or famous or handsome or tall but good people who value life and humanity for the right reasons.
Elizabeth Rudisill was one of those good folk. Sweet and strong and good. She will certainly be missed.