Rudy Abramson
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Writer co-edited an encyclopedia that covers 13 Appalachian states Herald-Leader Staff Report

Rudy Abramson, a former Los Angeles Times reporter who co-edited an encyclopedia that covers the geology, agriculture, literature and humor of 13 Appalachian states, died Wednesday at a Fairfax, Va., hospital.

Mr. Abramson, who was 70, had received massive head injuries in a fall Tuesday at his home in Reston, Va. The 1,832-page Encyclopedia of Appalachia, which he co-edited with Jean Haskell, an Appalachian scholar, was published in 2006.

At his death, Mr. Abramson was working on a biography of Harry Caudill, the Eastern Kentucky lawyer and environmentalist who wrote Night Comes to the Cumberlands, a book that drew national attention to the problems of Appalachia in the 1960s.

Mr. Abramson was instrumental in the creation of the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues at the University of Kentucky.

“He was passionately interested in a better life for rural Americans everywhere, especially in Appalachia,” said Al Smith, who co-founded the institute.

A native of Florence, Ala., Mr. Abramson worked in the Los Angeles Times’ Washington bureau from 1966 to 1993, covering everything from the U.S. space program to the Vietnam War. He was the Nashville Tennessean’s Washington correspondent before he joined the Times.

He wrote two books, Spanning the Century: The Life of W. Averell Harriman, 1891-1986 and Hallowed Ground: Preserving America’s Heritage, about the Piedmont region of northern Virginia.

Mr. Abramson also once taught at Berea College.

In 2002, he wrote a column for the Los Angeles Times protesting plans by CBS television to do a reality show based on the old situation comedy The Beverly Hillbillies. The network intended to place people from rural areas in Beverly Hills and film them.

“This time we shall see real rural people put on display in circumstances reeking of condescension,” he wrote.

CBS dropped its plans to do the reality show after protests by rural residents and the United Mine Workers of America.

Mr. Abramson is survived by his wife, Joyce, daughters, Kristin and Karin; and three grandchildren.


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Published in Lexington Herald-Leader from Feb. 15 to Feb. 20, 2008.
Memories & Condolences
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7 entries
August 23, 2012
As one of the many alumni from the Nashville Tennessean (1970-76), I happened to ask myself today, "Whatever happened to Rudy Abramson?" I was sorry to learn of his death, but pleased to read of the good work that he did as a reporter and author in his years after the Tennessean.
Kenneth Jost
February 19, 2008
I am Rudy's and Joyce's neighbor here in Reston VA. I am going to miss him greatly; he was one of the most unusual guys I have ever met;always humble and never boastful. We talked politics and University of Kentucky basketball. For a guy who wasn't from KY but spent alot of time there, he knew the issues and needs. He also made a "mean" Mint Julip. I am deeply saddened by his death and my heart goes out to Joyce and the family. Vade Bolton
Vade Bolton
February 19, 2008
Dear Family,
I am writing to express my deepest condolences on the loss of your loved one. He was a very inspirational man. He was a devoted husband, father, grandfather. I would like to share with you the scripture at Isaiah 33:24,"And no resident will say,"I am sick." Though Mr. Abramson died of head injuries sustained from a fall, isn't it comforting to know there will be a time where we will not have to worry about sickness or death. To worry about even being plagued with the common cold. Jehovah God has a remedy for this enemy death and that is by means of a resurrection. That being we have the chance of seeing our loved ones once again here on earth. Not in the conditions we are living in now but rather the world will be just as God orginally purposed it to be a Paradise. Isn't that a comforting thought? Once more I am so sorry for your loss.

Sincerely,
Nancy Cromwell
February 17, 2008
Besides being an effective voice for a threatened Americana, Rudy Abramson was an intelligent and personable gentleman who readily shared his talents. He will be missed.
Noel Thompson
February 17, 2008
Our hearts go out to Joyce, Kristen, and Karin. He was so loved by all that knew him. He wore the name of Abramson well.
Pat Lann
February 16, 2008
So sorry for loosing such a wonderful person - - I did not know him personally, but, being a native of Eastern Kentucky, my sympathy goes to family & friends.
Jan Rice
February 16, 2008
Rudy will be missed in our region of Appalachia. He understood the culture and wrote about the region in a positive way. He always had new and great ideas. We at the New Opportunity School for Women were grateful for all the wonderful articles he wrote about us over the years and felt a true friendship with him. He will be sincerely missed but the legacy of his words will live on.
Jane Stephenson
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