Obit: Mark Rudisill

Obit: Mark Rudisill

July 23rd, 2013 in Obituaries
Location: Hamilton county

Mark Hoyle Rudisill, 69, went to that great golf course in the sky on Thursday, July 18, 2013.When he wasn't chasing a little white ball, he put a firm footprint on efforts to change lives and places in Chattanooga.He was born in Lincolnton, N.C., and he grew up in Nashville.He was just nine years old, when he walked from his house to a nearby golf course, carrying his fathers clubs. When he returned home, he was duly punished for taking the clubs without permission, but the golf bug had bitten, with perhaps the highlight of his career being the winner of the Gibby Gilbert Tournament of Champions at Brainerd Golf Course in 1987.He graduated from Julia Green Elementary and Hillsboro High School in Nashville, then earned a bachelor of science degree from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville.He went to work for Knoxvilles planning commission then headed for the Sunshine State to work for the Boca Raton planning commission, where he "spent a lot of time measuring the height of hedges" to determine compliance of that citys strict zoning ordinances.He left Florida and came to Chattanooga to become Chief of Current Planning and Operations for the Chattanooga-Hamilton Regional Planning Commission in 1970 and was scooped away to become director of Urban Renewal for the Chattanooga Housing Authority two years later.It's said that he told the CHA Board that he was only 75% qualified, and he insisted on true citizen participation in CHA programs that directly affected them. CHA hired him anyway.Marks first challenge was the massive Orchard Knob/Third to McCallie project, where residents first warily and then affectionately called him "that curly-headed white boy."It was then that Mark began to make his mark on this city.He sometimes called himself the "Manager of Miscellaneous," as he outlasted eight CHA executive directors and eight mayors, holding almost 10 different titles at CHA, including interim executive director. He declined offers to make the job permanent, saying that he didn't think he was qualified and "that it's a very thankless job."What Chattanoogans can thank Mark for are the acquisition and assemblage of separate properties to enable the development of the TVA complex, Finley Stadium, Miller Plaza, the City/County Courts Building and expansion of the Trade Center. On that last one, he said at his retirement dinner "We did that and got bloody in the process, but I'd like to think the city is happy with the outcome."He worked with residents of the historic Fortwood District to breathe new life into a once declining neighborhood, prepared redevelopment plans for the city's Southside and MLK areas and strategic planning for public housing.Perhaps his crowning glory was obtaining a $35 million HOPE VI grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development to revitalize Alton Park. That grant included demolition of the antiquated Spencer McCallie Homes public housing development and the construction of The Villages at Alton Park, the first mixed-income public housing site in the city.In all, Mark presided over the purchase of over 1,200 parcels of property, relocation of over 1,200 families and businesses and clearance of over 1,000 substandard buildings on 500 acres of land over the years.When Mark retired in 2007, he left a parting gift of over 200 hours of accumulated sick leave for CHA employees who needed time off to take care of themselves or loved ones. He also gave the lions share of CHAs donation to Blood Assurance and later, just recently, coming to a total of 14 1/2 gallons of blood. As a diehard Vols fan, he probably bled big orange.Mark served as vice president of development for Friends of the Festival, which produces Riverbend; president of the Urban Forum, incorporator and secretary of the Community Challenge, president of the Chattanooga District Golf Association, member of the City Golf Board, president of the Brainerd Mens Golf Association and member of the Chamber of Commerces beautification committee.He leaves behind a bunch of people who loved him, especially his wife Betsy Bramlett. He always said he'd won her in a raffle, and he actually did. He had the winning ticket for a terrarium at a fundraiser, and when he came to get his prize, thats when they met. He didn't ask her out for a date, though, until "it was too dark, too late to play golf"Others who will miss him include his brother and sister in-law, Guy and Liz Rudisill, of Winston-Salem, N.C.; his son, Bay Kelley, his wife, Andrea and daughter, Izzy, of Bloomington, Ind.; niece, Beth Rudisill, of Raleigh, N.C.; and nephew, Murray Rudisill, of Hot Springs, Ark.Mark was preceded in death by his 100 year-old mother, Libby Rudisill; and his father, Clarence Guy Rudisill.Friends are invited to an informal celebration of his life from 2-7 p.m. on Saturday, July 27, at Mark and Betsys home, 51 South Crest Road on Missionary Ridge.In lieu of flowers, Mark would probably like for people to donate the gift of life by donating at Blood Assurance, which he did, or sign up to be an organ donor, which he did. You could also adopt a homeless kitty cat or puppy dog from the Humane Society or McKamey Animal Center. Otherwise, a charity of your choice would be nice, too.Visit www.heritagefh.com to share words of comfort to the family.Arrangements are by Heritage Funeral Home, 7454 East Brainerd Road, Chattanooga, TN 37421.