Paul Rudy has a master’s degree in speech pathology and audiology. And once every half-century or so, he puts it to good use. The rest of the time he and Eva, his wife of nearly 60 years, have stayed busy with a little of this and a lot of that.
A large part of their activities have centered around Tucker County, a place they first moved to in 1973. They actually were familiar with the area much earlier, however.
“Before moving here we had our honeymoon here. We stayed in Cabin 22 at Blackwater Falls,” Eva recalled.
Both are originally from eastern Pennsylvania, Eva from Lancaster and Paul from York. While serving at the Delaware School for the Deaf, Paul was pursing a Ph.D. in general administration. He was invited to become chairman of special education at Madison University. After visiting Harrisonburg, Eva called Paul at the office and suggested that instead of moving to Harrisonburg they move to West Virginia. Paul said he considered Eva’s wisdom and left academia after completing all requirements for his Ph.D. except his dissertation.
When Tucker County first called, Canaan Valley and Davis were home from 1973 to 1988, and they returned to Thomas in 2005. They still live in The Pines, an independent housing complex at Cortland Acres.
So how did a couple that grew up several hundred miles away become so connected to Tucker County? Family played a big part in the introduction, Paul said.
“My mother married Dr. (Samuel) Bucher’s father,” he said. “We would come to visit Sam in Harman. Around 1970 we bought a cabin and 100 acres together.”
That initial property was on the old G.I. Road that is now Timberline Road.
“The potholes were so big we had to fill the potholes with rocks so we could get in,” Paul said.
Much has changed since then, and the Rudys played a key part in several of the developments. They acquired, purchased and transferred property and businesses so often that the autobiography they wrote (mostly for their family) is called, “Dear, Please Sign Here …”
Their first foray into business in the area was Coopers Restaurant, which they renamed the Alpine Inn. The restaurant in Davis was where Bricks and Barrels Brewhouse is now. Eva primarily ran that (while teaching school for a year to ensure a stable income), while Paul developed a number of properties and sold real estate.
“When I left Delaware I wasn’t sure what I was going to do,” Paul said. “Red Cooper said, ‘Hey, do you want to buy a restaurant?’ I bought Coopers Restaurant from him and we developed a buffet that was very popular. There were very few restaurants in town then.”
They opened an Ace Hardware store on the corner of Fourth and William avenues in Davis, where Wilderness Plantation Inn now operates. They operated the Mountain State Museum, selling ladies clothing on the first floor with the real estate office on the second floor where Dr. Kines dental office is.
Paul also developed the Village of Davis Apartments, which still operate in their spot across from Davis Town Hall. (That’s proof that not everything has changed names or business lines!)
As if the real estate and entrepreneurial activities were not enough, Paul was elected to a seat on the Tucker County school board. It was during his tenure, including time as president, that the county opted to consolidate Parsons and Mountaineer High Schools into Tucker County High School.
Family has always been at the center of the Rudys’ lives, and their children Pamela Kosanic and Eric Rudy still live in Tucker County. Pamela, in fact, lives a couple miles away and works just up the hill from their house at Cortland Acres, while Eric lives only a mile away.
Family also is what led to their only absence from Tucker County, from 1988 to 2005, when they returned to Lancaster to take care of their aging parents. It was an exciting time in Canaan Valley, as discussions related to a potential hydroelectric power plant and dam took place at the same time as the federal government considered taking the property through eminent domain.
“There was meeting after meeting after meeting on that,” Paul recalled. “The tempers were high. We sold everything – the real estate company, Ace, the museum – and moved to Lancaster.”
While in Lancaster, Paul served as president of an organization called Mennonite Housing. But they missed Tucker County, especially their children who were still here, and began to consider a move back.
Don Black, then the administrator at Cortland Acres, told them about an opportunity at The Pines, single-family homes that include maintenance for a modest monthly fee.
It had been years since Cortland had added a home to The Pines, but the Rudys jumped at the opportunity. Since then, many more units have been added – and sold with the help of Paul, who serves as The Pines’ marketing director.
Having someone move into the community wasn’t the only thing that excited Black, however. He was familiar with Paul’s background and jumped at the chance to have a speech pathologist join the staff in Cortland’s rehabilitation department.
So more than 30 years after he had stopped working at the Delaware School for the Deaf, Paul put his Ph.D. back to work helping people in and around Tucker County. He’s also quite an evangelist for Cortland Acres and the entire region.
“Cortland was very appealing to us,” Paul said. “You can be near the facility, the costs are reasonable, we like the housing, we like the staff. Don was wonderful, Beth and Dan have done a great job. We’ve done so much in her short tenure – built more in the Pines, renovated the nursing center, the gift shop, changed the food service. They’re really visionary.”
And it all happens in a small community, one that the Rudys first discovered 60 years ago next year.
“If we were to stay in Lancaster, we wouldn’t have been able to afford a house like this,” Eva added. “We came back to back to be near our children. We knew the area, we love the area.”