City's Penny Philanthropist Is Angel To Many
This city is graced with many philanthropists. Names like Annenberg, Lenfast, Perelman and Kimmel have hit the headlines time and again for the hundreds of millions of dollars they've contributed to the world of arts and culture in this city.
On a level, not often noticed by the press or television news cameras, operates another Philadelphia philanthropist, who has been nicknamed the "Penny Philanthropist." That's because his contributions aren't in the millions, but in the thousands. Another difference is he's given out thousands of dollars so many times that they've gone into the millions.
He's considered an angel and to many he looks like an ever-smiling Santa Claus. The sled carrying his money gifts is the Kal and Lucille Rudman Foundation, which he started in 1993.
There are thousands of Philadelphians who have been touched beneficially by the Rudman Foundation. Kal's contributions are spread everywhere, aimed "at making a difference in an individual's life." That's why many of his grants are in the form of scholarships. Hundreds of Police and firefighters have been able to better their skills through such scholarships to local colleges.
Continuing in the realm of public safety, Kal has been a vital force behind the very successful Tip Line run by the Citizens Crime Commission of Delaware Valley, headed by John Apeldorn.
Rudman has contributed thousands of dollars to insure many cases remain high profile. Apeldorn related, "Many cases would simply drop off the radar screen if it were not for the fact Kal Rudman would come up with a high reward pledge, bringing the crime incident back
to the front burner."
This past week Kal Rudman demonstrated his keen awareness of how to make a difference where it counts over a period of time.
He presented twenty scholarships to police personnel who are taking a one-semester course in the Criminal Justice Department of Community College.
That presentation was made at the Police Administration Building. It's the fourth straight semester in which the Kal and Lucille Rudman have made scholarships available with a total of 72 provided to date.
Stephen M. Curtis, Community College President, revealed his college is dedicating its classroom at the Police Academy after the Kal and Lucille Rudman Foundation by placing a plaque in their honor at the room's entrance.
Firefighters, as well as police officers, have been receiving scholarships by the score. These are given to those firefighters studying toward college degrees in Fire Safety Administration, a program administered at Holy Family College. This, too, has been a recurrent effort subsidized each semester by the Foundation.
In the world of struggling performing artists, Kal Rudman is a legend. His scholarships go to musical students at the Philadelphia College of Arts, with the Foundation subsidizing a yearly gathering of top jazz students from around the country who gather at the arts school.
Classical artists find a ready friend in Rudman. Take for instance the annual High school Classical Piano competition co-sponsored by himself and the 110-year-old Cunningham Piano Company. The top three finalists receive handsome cash prizes from the Rudman Foundation and often more help as they pursue their musical training.
St. Christopher's Hospital for Children has a program dedicated to teaching high school students the ins and outs of medical administration and service. The Rudmans subsidize that through another scholarship program.
Back into the realm of public safety, Kal has often befriended K-9 police dogs and Mounted Police horses.
The Foundation is well known for purchasing bulletproof vests for police officers here and in Montgomery County. But when a police dog was shot, he ordered and paid for bulletproof vests, which they now wear when going into action.
Rudman has purchased several horses for the Philadelphia Police. Captain Alan Kurtz, who heads the Mounted Unit, called Rudman when he learned a "Therapeutic Riding Center had a horse they needed to unload because it was too frisky." Kurtz reports Rudman paid for the horse, but asked its name be changed from Barney to another more suitable name for a Police Horse. Tara Creamer, a 14 year old, earned a $500 bond from Rudman, winning a naming contest sponsored by Stu Bykofsky. "America" now has a new name and has proven his friskiness suits his new duties as a Mounted Police Horse.
The death of a K-9 Police Dog in the rear of a Police car from excessive heat brought an immediate response from Rudman who signed a check permitting nine K-9 vehicles to be specially equipped with a device to stop this from ever happening again.
Though many of his contributions seem to focus on aiding police and fire fighters, he has found the need and demonstrated the willingness to come to the rescue of many individuals and groups. He gave a grant to the small, but unique Academy of Sacred Arts run by Sister Paula Beierschmitt in South Philadelphia to help her continue her operations. He came to the rescue of another Catholic group, the Christmas Crèche Committee, which for two years in a row had its Christmas Nativity Display on Federal property vandalized. His grant helped the group repair expensive statuary desecrated by the vandals.
Another recent contribution was to the Fire Department for the purchase of 10,000 smoke detectors. Kal picked the particular Fire House to distribute the detectors because he learned the district it served had recorded the largest number of deaths occurring from fires. "To me," he said, "that meant many people in this area couldn't afford the detectors."
There is a concern for the handicapped "little people" in the way Kal Rudman operates. He is a constant contributor to the Variety Club.
Rudman's staged golf tournaments have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for handicapped children. He donated a Sunshine Coach, a van dedicated exclusively to transporting handicapped children around South Jersey to the Variety Club.
School children are a focus of his as well. Each year he gives out hundreds of Halloween and other seasonal bags filled with needed school supplies to schoolchildren.
His sensitivity to the concerns of others often determines when the Kal and Lucille Rudman Foundation springs to the rescue. For instance, who but Kal, would have thought of the plight of the hundreds of police officers stationed in the cold outside and inside the Stadium during last year's Eagles playoffs? He found out they had only a half hour for lunch and they had to wait in long lines to spend "good dollars" for what they ordered. So he bought hundreds of lunches to feed those police officers that would have otherwise been forgotten.
Born Solomon Rudman, Kal graduated with a BS from the University of Pennsylvania, transferring from there to Philadelphia College of Osteopathy. He decided not to be a doctor when he was offered a Fellowship from the Pennsylvania Association of Retarded Children, which enabled him to earn a Masters at Temple University in Education. For 10 years he taught school before making his debut as a top 40 deejay on WCAM in Camden in 1959. A series of radio station moves later found his talents being sought by record company executives who asked Kal to write the first rhythm and blues record report. Billboard appointed Kal its first R&B editor.
Not only was he good at anticipating trends in music; he had the knack of predicting hits. When he heard a record, he knew where it was going. He began publishing his comments in a tip shit which grew into a magazine chain headed by his flagship, The Friday Morning Quarter Back, a sophisticated glitzy magazine, which is must read in every radio and television station in the country and around the world. The Washington Post acknowledged this ability by calling him the "king of the record radio tip sheets." It cited his many predictions, which turned albums and records he touted into gold or platinum. The Chicago Tribune labeled him "The Prophet of Pop."
During that period of his life, Kal appeared innumerable times on television shows. He co-hosted and produced 45 Merv Griffin music specials. He was the Today Show's Pop Music expert for two years, then doing the same on Tom Snyder's show on NBC TV, and on 20/20
He's most proud of his graduating from Central High School's 188th Class. He's donated much to Central, including a nine-foot concert grand piano. A group of plaques at the school honor him for those various contributions.
He's been profiled in New Yorker magazine, featured in the Wall St Journal, cited by Forbes Magazine as Man of the Year Leisure/Entertainment industries in its Annual Report on American industry. He's co-hosted with Pat Boone on an Easter Seal Telethon and was Host-Producer of several Arthritis Foundation Telethons. For eight years, he found himself doing the color commentary for the World Wrestling Federation where he earned the moniker, Killer
He's been listed in Who's Who in the Entertainment Industry, Who's Who in Industry & Finance and Who's Who in America (past 8 years).
It's obvious his first love is radio. He continues to log many hours in stations here and around the country. But most of his time today is spent making sure that the foundation named for he and his wife doesn't miss a beat in finding and taking care of those who need a hand up.