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Skidmore College
Skidmore Retirees

Rudolf Sturm

Rudolf Sturm, professor emeritus of Slavic languages, died November 27, 2000, in Saratoga Springs. He was 88.

Rudy joined the Skidmore faculty in 1958 and retired in 1982. Fluent in six languages, he taught Italian and Slavic languages, literature, history, and culture. His tenure in the academic world was only part of a varied and distinguished career that embraced letters, diplomacy, and civic affairs.

Born in 1912 in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Rudolf was drawn into world affairs as a young man. In 1936, he was sent to Brussels, Geneva, and Paris as a Czechoslovak delegate in a European movement attempting to preserve peace. He fled his homeland in 1939, joining the Czechoslovak government-in-exile in Paris, but in 1941 the Nazi invasion forced him to flee again, this time to the United States.

He enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1942 and served in the North African and Italian campaigns. After the war he worked to join the government in Czechoslovakia, but the communist takeover again forced him to leave in 1948. He returned to the U.S. and worked for Radio Free Europe.

Having earned an absolutorium in law and political science from Charles University in Prague in 1937, Rudy went on to earn a Ph.D. in Slavic languages and literature from Harvard University in 1956. He taught at Boston College, Yale University, the City College of New York, and Hershey Junior College in addition to Skidmore. A frequent lecturer and writer, he authored and co-authored several books on Slavic countries and cultures, including a bibliographic guide to Czechoslovakia published by the U.S. Library of Congress.

Along with extensive teaching and research at Skidmore, he founded its Employees Federal Credit Union. He also served the American Association of University Professors in several capacities and was active in the Modern Language Association and the Czechoslovakian Society of Arts and Science in America. As a member of the national executive committee of American Professors for Peace in the Middle East during 1968-75, he traveled to Arab states and Israel to confer with government and intellectual leaders. He lectured frequently on Israel and the diaspora, and, as a Roman Catholic, he received Israel’s Tower of David Award in 1984. Upon retiring from Skidmore, Rudy remained active in civic affairs and professional organizations.

His survivors included wife Marie, daughters Lydia Sturm Castle ’64 and Toni Sturm ’80, son Rudolph, two grandsons, a sister in the Czech Republic, and numerous nieces and nephews.