Rudolph William Bauss was born on October 2, 1938 in Washington, D.C. to immigrants who fled post-WWI Germany for the lights of New York City. Growing up in the nation’s capital, from an early age he was steeped in a world of art and culture: His father, a sculptor and model-maker who worked for the National Park Service, counted a number of WPA artists and at least three U.S. Presidents among his friends and acquaintances.
Rudy attended Catholic schools in Silver Spring, MD throughout his K-12 years, but rebelled against Church strictures early on. A talented jazz saxophonist, he played music professionally in Baltimore and D.C. throughout high school—on his father’s condition that he maintain straight As, which he did. After acceptance to Tulane University in New Orleans, he shifted his focus and became a Luso-Brazilian historian, specializing in trade routes of the Portuguese Empire. During this time he also served in the U.S. Army Reserves (1960-1968) and married Long Beach native Sheryle Oliver, who accompanied him to Brazil after he won a Fulbright scholarship. He earned his PhD from Tulane in 1977.
1970 saw three momentous occasions: Rudy and Sheryle had their only child, daughter Cristina Iracema; Rudy served as best man for his closest friend Jim Mulholland and his bride Elda, by all accounts the last people with whom he spoke before his passing; and Brazil won its third World Cup.
During his time in Brazil Rudy taught English at several institutions, including Brasas, the Fundação Getúlio Vargas, and the Instituto Rio Branco. After his divorce from Sheryle and leaving Brazil in 1979, he spent several years conducting primary-source research in India, Macau, Hong Kong, Portugal, and Spain. Upon returning to the U.S. he earned a Master’s in Education from the University of Maryland and taught high school for a year before settling in Austin, TX in the mid-1980s. He was subsequently an adjunct professor at community colleges in both Austin and San Antonio.
Rudy was loved by young and old alike for his intelligence, wit, travel stories, lack of filter, and peerless ability to enliven any party. He loved eating but eschewed cooking, so when not fed by friends subsisted on a dubious diet of bananas, tomatoes, pickled herring, Cheez-Its, M&Ms, Chinese takeout, and Coca-Cola (never Pepsi—Nixon drank Pepsi). He never forgot birthdays, anniversaries, or religious commemorations (despite being agnostic), and kept in close touch with friends of all ages and from many walks of life.
Rudy loved road trips on back roads and avoided interstates at all costs. He took planes only when traveling overseas. He saw the aurora borealis in both Norway and Alaska, and the aurora australis in Australia itself. His favorite animals were turtles, and the only thing he ever collected—besides books—were turtle-shaped mementos. He deeply loved his adopted city of Austin and its culture, and vociferously defended Texas from coastal elites who painted it with a broad brush.
Rudy was predeceased by his parents, Rudolf and Margarethe (Stier) Bauss. He is survived by his daughter Cristina Bauss and son-in-law Tom Mays of Eureka, CA; grandchildren Benjamin Zavala and Isabel Zavala of Las Vegas, NV; great-granddaughter Valentina-Rose Zavala Botello of Las Vegas, NV; a large extended family in Germany; the heirs to the Mars candy fortune; and numerous friends all over the world.
Rudy’s remains were cremated by Green Cremation Texas and will be scattered in multiple bodies of water. He was not grounded in life, and neither shall he be in death.