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Rudder, James Earl, 1910-1970
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James Earl Rudder was born on May 6, 1910, in Eden, Texas. After graduating from high school in 1927, Rudder attended John Tarleton Agricultural College. In 1930 he transferred to Texas A & M College, graduating in 1932 with a B.S. in Industrial Education. Upon his graduation he was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Infantry of the U. S. Army Reserves. Rudder served as a football coach and teacher for the high school in Brady, Tex., from 1933 to 1938. In 1937, he married Margaret Exa Williamson, who was also a teacher at the Brady High School. He coached football for John Tarleton College from 1938 until 1941, when he was called to active duty in the United States Army as a 1st Lieutenant.
During World War II, Rudder was stationed initially with the 2nd Infantry Division at Ft. Sam Houston, and later became a Battalion Executive Officer with the 83rd Infantry Division. In the summer of 1943, he organized the 2nd Ranger Battalion. On June 6, 1944, the Rangers landed at Pointe du Hoc, on the shore of Normandy, as a part of the Allied invasion of Europe, and scaled its 100-foot cliff.
After the war, Rudder returned to Brady where he became a rancher and businessman. Elected mayor of Brady in 1946, he held the post until 1952. Rudder later served as Vice President, Public and Labor Relations Counselor at Brady Aviation Corporation from 1952 to 1955.
During his tenure as mayor, Rudder developed important political connections in Texas, most notably with Governor Allan Shivers and then-State Senator Lyndon B. Johnson. In January 1955, Rudder became the Commissioner of the General Land Office of the State of Texas and Chairman of the Veterans Land Board, to finish out a predecessor’s unfinished term. Rudder won popular election to the post in 1956; he remained in office as Commissioner until he was appointed Vice President of Texas A&M on February 1, 1958. He became President of the university on July 1, 1959. Rudder's position as President was combined with the position of Chancellor for the Texas A&M University System on September 1, 1965. Rudder served as both President of Texas A&M University and the University System until his death.
James Earl Rudder died 23 Mar. 1970 and is buried in College Station, TX.