Mary Ellen Rudin: 1924-2013

Faculty Remembers Mary Ellen Rudin

Photo of Mary Ellen Rudin, taken by Wendi Kent, 2012
Photo of Mary Ellen Rudin, taken by Wendi Kent, 2012


  • 1949:  Ph.D.
    University of Texas
  • 1959-71:  Lecturer
    University of Wisconsin
  • 1971-91:  Professor
    University of Wisconsin
  • 1991-2013:  
    Professor Emeritus
    University of Wisconsin

"On the research of Mary Ellen Rudin"- Arnold W. Miller and Ken Kunen (PDF)

Mary Ellen will be deeply missed, as she has been our friend, colleague and role model for many many years.  She truly loved mathematics and our department.  For me personally she was a pillar of support and strength. - Leslie Smith

Mary Ellen loved the department and the people within. This was very clear to anyone as her love just pour out of her through her smile, her conversation and her unwavering loyalty. But this was especially the case for the female mathematicians, to whom she offered sustained and continuous support and for whom she was and will be always a role model. Throughout my life in Madison Mary Ellen and I discussed many times the math world, the department and the role of family in one's career, a topic where we held similar views. She gave me tips on how to balance the work load, and encouraged me to follow my mathematical instinct and to aim high: always do good mathematics, time is too short to waste it on things that are not interesting! That was her constant message to me and to so many others. After talking to her one felt lucky to be a mathematician, her excitement so contagious and her support so strong you felt you could do extraordinary things. Even during the last months she remained the same old Mary Ellen: "how is your fantastic daughter?! is she still doing as great as usual?!" those were her last words to me. She left in her own terms, as one would hope, and we will miss her greatly. Let all of us learn from the good she did and try to support and help each other. This would be the best way to honor the memory of this most extraordinary woman. - Gloria Mari Beffa

Photo Courtesy UW Archives, #S04909

Having known both her and Walter, however briefly, I have to say that they always impressed me with their optimism and strength of character. I will certainly miss Mary Ellen's iconic presence at the department parties and around the department altogether. - Andrei Caldararu

I, too, only new her briefly, but she certainly brightened my life.  My wife Wendi captured her lovely smile last year. (picture upper right)-Richard Kent

As a newcomer to the department, she welcomed me and that was very warming and nice.  "May her soul be bound in the bundle of life"   -  "תהיה נפשה צרורה בצרור החיים" - Shamgar Gurevich

I really enjoyed talking to Mary Ellen over these last two years when I saw her at department meetings.  She always had clever insights from her experience here in the department---she will be missed!  --Phil Matchett Wood