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MFCP says goodbye to a good friend, Gary Rudy

Gary Lewis Rudy, of Rio Grande NJ, died peacefully in his log cabin on February 2nd, 2024 with loved ones at his side. He had been in hospice care since January 2nd after battling late-stage cancer for the past several months. He was 84 years old.

Gary was born on March 27, 1939, in Verona, Pennsylvania. He graduated from Penn High School in 1957 and served in the US Army. He began the first chapter of his career designing window displays for G.C. Murphy & Co., leading him to move to Cape May County, N.J. to manage their namesake retail store in Wildwood and later the Murphy’s Mart flagship store in Cape May Court House. After 25 years with G.C. Murphy & Co., he managed The Cape May County Herald newspaper for 10 years and later served as Executive Director of the Independent Free Papers of America organization for 15 years.

He was a great friend and beloved family member to so many great people in Cape May County and beyond, having built strong and lasting friendships all across the country – from the sunny skies of Florida to the wilds of Alaska. He was known for his warmth, generosity, honor, trustworthiness, and humor; within minutes of meeting him, with his trademark Western hat and impish smile, he made you feel as if you had been his best friend for years.

But his real best friend was his wife of 52 years, Bea, who passed away in 2016. They met at Murphy’s and worked together side by side for all those years when they weren’t traveling to Hawaii or hosting legendary Christmas Eve Parties. Many who attended their Christmas parties were fellow firefighters from Rio Grande Volunteer Fire Company, where he served as firefighter, chief, and commissioner for 54 years.

Of course, it wouldn’t be Christmas without a visit from ol’ Saint Nick, and Gary made sure of that: for over 57 years he donned the red and white and visited kids all over the county to let them know they were on his nice list. He would even play Santa at Beachcomber Campground for Christmas in July, filling his suit with ice packs to keep cool during the 2+ hours he would spend taking early orders form kids in 90- degree heat.

While he touched so many people throughout his life, he’s primarily survived by his brother, Robert Rudy, his nieces Arlene Reckard, Patty Kennedy-Raffloer, and Tara Patrizi Galman, his nephews John Lawton & Steve Patrizi and Sherry Meenan, his companion of the last 3 years. Instead of flowers, they ask that donations be made to the Rio Grande Fire Company Building Fund, which can be sent to PO Box 672, Rio Grande NJ, 08242.

Per his wishes, services will be private.