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Rudolph Sabo


1925 - 2016 Obituary Condolences Gallery
Rudolph "Rudi" Jon Sabo

Great Falls —Rudolph "Rudi" Jon Sabo passed away at the age of 90 on April 12, 2016 in Billings, Montana. He was born August 30, 1925 in Sand Coulee, MT to John and Annie (Velibir) Sabo.

Rudi graduated from Great Falls High School in 1943. He joined the U.S. Naval Service upon graduating from GFHS and served almost 3 years before being honorably discharged as a Seaman 2nd Class with the American Area Campaign Medal and World War II Victory Medal. During his time in the Navy, Rudi began his college career. He attended the University of Dubuque and St. Ambrose University in Iowa. He also attended Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY and Carleton College in Minnesota. As a WWII veteran, he participated in the Big Sky Honor Flight to Washington D.C. in April 2014.

Rudi returned to his beloved state of Montana in 1946 to complete his degree at Montana State University. He obtained his bachelor's degree from MSU in 1952 and a Master of Education in 1955. As an undergraduate student at Montana State, he was a member of the wrestling team.

In 1953, he began his teaching career at Fairfield High School as a math teacher and guidance counselor. He started a wrestling program at FHS even though there were no other schools to compete against and he conducted all school tournaments. Rudi also taught at Billings Senior High School for one year and took the wrestling team there to the state championship in 1955. He began the first of 37 years at Great Falls High School in 1956. He loved returning to the school he graduated from as he was forever a GFHS Bison.

During his time at Great Falls High, he taught thousands of students in math and wrote many college recommendation letters to deserving students through the years. In addition, he was head wrestling coach for over 13 years and he leaves behind a legacy that includes 3 State Titles, 7 second place finishes, 4 Divisional Championships and a Duel Meet Record of 146-42. He coached 26 individual wrestlers to State Championships. In 1970, Rudi was honored with the Montana Coaches Association Wrestling Coach of the Year award. He retired from Great Falls High School in 1994 but education and helping others was never far from his thoughts. From 1998 to 2008, Rudi continued to assist students and teachers at North Middle School 2 days a week and played racquetball the other 3 days.

As much as Rudi loved teaching, he also loved the outdoors. He was an avid fisherman and excelled in fly tying. He enjoyed creating his own flies to use on trips to the Sun River and Smith River with his best friend and fellow teacher, Charles Hackman. During the summer, you would always find Rudi in his garden and he often shared his bounty with friends and neighbors.

Rudi leaves behind his wife of over 40 years, Vel. He is also survived by his sister, Helen Gooch and his daughters Trudi (Randy) Cook, Terri Skeel, Tomi (Donald) Wheeler, Ann Jones, Talli (Gary) Lind, Angie (Duff) Gray and Shannon (Matt) McLaughlin. He was preceded in death by his parents, his brother John, his sister Mary Weist and his sister and brother-in-law Ann and Bill Austin. Rudi had 13 grandchildren, 4 great grandchildren and many cherished nieces and nephews.

As a man who said that if a student failed his class then he, himself has failed the student, his memory will carry on in the hearts of his family, friends and students. Rudi was a loving husband, father and teacher. He was an avid baseball fan and played for several years in the Great Falls men's league as a catcher for the Blue Max Bombers. He especially loved the NY Yankees and always enjoyed watching them play "as long as they were winning." His sense of humor, quick wit and charm will be missed by those who knew him.

A memorial service to celebrate is his life will be held Friday, June 17 at the Columbus Center from 3 - 6 p.m. During this celebration, his family would like to share stories and comments that his friends and former students may have. Please send all inspirational stories, messages and condolences to his family at [email protected] In lieu of flowers, the family has established a scholarship fund at the Embark Credit Union (formally the Great Falls Teachers Credit Union). Donations can be sent to the RJ Sabo Memorial Scholarship c/o Embark Credit Union, 1500 River Drive North, Great Falls, MT 59401. All funds will be given to deserving GFHS students in memory of Rudi, his teaching career, wrestling accomplishments and the school he loved.
Published in Great Falls Tribune from Apr. 24 to Apr. 27, 2016
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