In Memoriam: The passing of Arthur M. Rude - a truly remarkable man and lawyer


Local legendary trial lawyer Arthur M. Rude, devoted husband of Vivian L. Rude of North Muskegon, passed away on September 19, 2013 at the age of 93. He was born to Norwegian parents, Minnie and John Rude, on April 24, 1920 in East Jordan, Michigan.

Art began his legal career while in high school on the debating team, where he made it to the state quarterfinals. He graduated from East Jordan High School second in his class in 1938. Art then graduated from the University of Michigan in June 1942 with honors in economics, and immediately enlisted in the Army.

In January 1944, Art married Vivian Maze in Muskegon. Art began his life-long commitment to civil rights when he was one of six officers leading an all-black company of enlisted men in the then-segregated Army. He and his soldiers were preparing for the invasion of Japan in August 1945 on the island of Okinawa, when the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. Art and Vivan's son, Dave, was born while Art was overseas.

After the surrender of the Japanese, Art was discharged from the Army in 1946, returned to Muskegon, and enrolled in the University of Michigan Law School. While in law school, Art and Vivian's first daughter, Ginger, was born in 1948, and Art graduated from law school in 1949. Art and Vivian and their two children then returned to Muskegon, where Art began his long and distinguished legal career. In 1955, Art and Vivian had their second daughter, Barbara.

Beginning in the 1950s and continuing through the 1990s, Art was a leading civil rights leader in Muskegon County. He was active in many local civic organizations, including President of the Urban League, President of the Muskegon Bar Association, Commissioner of the State Bar of Michigan, President of the First Congregational Church, Chairman of the Board of Hackley Adult Mental Health Clinic, and Chairman of the Muskegon County Employment Advisory Committee, which focused on equal employment opportunity. Art was an active member of several other local civic organizations, and received distinguished service awards from B'nai B'rith and the Urban League. Art also volunteered to be appointed by the court to represent black citizens charged with serious felonies, in an effort to bring justice to the wrongly accused. He achieved victory for over a dozen innocent defendants in first-degree murder trials.

In 1968, Art joined the law firm of Parmenter, Forsythe and Rude, and in 1970 he was inducted as a Fellow into the nationally prestigious American College of Trial Lawyers. Art retired from the practice of law in his mid-80s and lived with his wife Vivian in North Muskegon until he died.

Throughout his life, Art shared his love of water skiing, snow skiing, tennis, sailing and travel with all of his family. He and Vivian enjoyed countless annual reunions with family at their cabin on Lake Michigan, where he would happily answer the phone saying, “Hello, this is Heaven.” He enjoyed a long and rewarding life.

Art is survived by his wife Vivian; his son Dave, an attorney living in California; his daughter Ginger Mongiello (Dr. Catherine O'Neill), an artist and instructor at University of New Mexico -Taos; and his daughter Dr. Barbara (Andrew) Roberts, Human Rights Officer for the University of New Brunswick, in Canada. Art is also survived by his seven grandchildren: Adam, Eric (Tracy), and Monica Rude, Syri and Risa (Chad Haddal) Mongiello, and Hugh and Neil Roberts. Art also leaves his brothers, Bill (Dolly) Rude of Muskegon and Ernie Rude of Baltimore, MD, and their families.


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