Sunset Funeral Homes-Northeast - El Paso
4631 Hondo Pass
El Paso, TX 79904
(915) 755-4494
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Obituary Condolences

Rudolph Gottfrid Gerdin demanded excellence from everyone he encountered. When he died on June 10, 2014, he was organizing his recovery, planning for his backyard reconstruction, and insisting on a green chile cheeseburger from Whataburger. Rudolph got his last two wishes, but sadly, we could not stop death. Rudolph was born in Marquette, Michigan on June 16, 1922 to Arvid Gottfrid and Naima Vitick Gerdin. His parents moved to Tucson, Arizona where they were the first chiropractors in the city. His parents homesteaded in Arizona and on the ranch, Rudolph gained his love of cowboys, Apache gold, and reading. When World War II broke out, Rudolph volunteered and joined the Navy. As part of the V12 program, he received his civil engineering degree at the University of New Mexico. On his first day in Albuquerque, he saw his future wife playing tennis, and it was love at first sight. Rudolph and Elizabeth Iwaski Gerdin had a fairy tale romance and life together for 68 years. Rudolph served in Guam and built Rear Admiral Nimitz's quarters on the island. When he returned to the states, Rudolph worked for the Fish and Wildlife Service and traveled the western United States building fish hatcheries and camping areas. When the space program was no more than a dream for the United States, Rudolph was called to serve his country again as an engineer for NASA. He designed the White Sands Test Facility outside of Las Cruces, New Mexico and began his quest to put a man on the moon. Rudolph was integral to the team of engineers who tested materials for the space program. One of Rudolph's best memories was when the lunar module landed and took off again from the moon on July 20, 1969. His team built and tested the engine that safely took Neil Armstrong on and off the moon's surface. Every evening, after his 100 mile commute, Rudolph arrived home at 5:15. His sharp whistle called his children, Andrew Arvid and Lynda Kay, home for supper. The rest of the neighborhood kids also knew it was time to go home and eat as well. Summers were filled with road trips across the country or to the Gila Wilderness. Rudolph believed his children should be strong swimmers and he became one of the principal founders of the Park Foothills pool. The Sharks were his team, and the pool is where the family spent countless hours playing. When Rudolph retired from NASA, he began his own engineering firm. He designed countless schools in the El Paso area as well as office buildings and homes. He bragged that there was never a failure in his buildings. Rudolph lived his life fully and loudly. His mantra was honor, education, and health. He shared his political views freely and was the boundless resource for every clean joke he could find and email to his family. When his wife died last year, the light went out of his blue eyes. Bettye Ann and Rudolph had been joined by kismet and her death left a hole in his heart. Although Rudolph could fix anything that was mechanical, he could not repair his broken heart. His journey to see his wife again was not easy, but take comfort that they are together again for eternity. Rudolph is survived by his son Andrew Gerdin and his wife Lori; his daughter Lynda and her husband Robert Webb; five grandchildren Maja, Signe, Thomas, Alexander, and Nathaniel; one great grandchild, Zoe; and his brother Harold. Rudolph will be placed next to his wife in the Santa Fe National Cemetery. Look at the moon tonight, and know Rudolph brought home a rock for the world to share. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Meals on Wheels, 3301 Sinclair Ave., Midland, TX 79707; or the Park Foothills Pool, 3304 Emerald, El Paso, TX 79794. Services entrusted to Sunset Funeral Home Northeast. Please visit our online register book at
Published in El Paso Times from June 21 to June 28, 2014
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