Ruds live ‘Small Town, Big Dreams’
By Annette Tait
Editor’s note: Quotes from Sheldon Rud in this article are from a Center Republican interview held in March of this year.
This year’s Old Settlers Days honorees Sheldon and Barb Rud take the 2016 celebration’s theme of “Small Town, Big Dreams” to a whole new level. The couple – and their family – is the epitome of how to live big dreams in small towns.
The late Sheldon Rud was from hearty Norwegian immigrant stock who came to Sheyenne, North Dakota, via Swift Current, Sask., Canada.
“They had one of those big steamers [threshing machines], and did threshing,” said Sheldon, better known as Shelly, explaining what brought brothers Ole, Fred and Paul south from Canada, and eventually to New Salem, where they signed on as Standard Oil agents. Another brother, Carl, joined them several years later when Fred returned to the family farmstead in Sheyenne.
Shelly’s grandfather, Ole, married Ingrid Anderson, and the couple raised three children – Pearl, Henry, and Clara. Henry joined his father in the Rud Oil business, starting a tradition that now spans 100 years and five generations.
Henry and Louise (Ollerman) Rud continued operating Rud Oil and started their own family, with Shelly arriving first, followed by his brother Curtis. The boys were a bit mischievous in their younger days, with Shelly recounting their escapades with one of the company’s new vehicles.
“We stole a gas truck – a new 1,000-gallon Ford. When they weren’t home, we’d drive it up and down the alley, and one day we got brave and drove around town,” Shelly said, with the familiar twinkle in his eye. “We got a paddling. I wasn’t afraid of Dad, but I was afraid of Grandpa.”
The next time the boys visited their grandfather to have a hamburger, Shelly climbed up on a stool next to his grandfather.
“He said, ‘I hear we have another truck driver in the family’,” Shelly recalled. “That’s all he ever said to me.”
The boys grew up in New Salem, going to school and helping their father and grandfather in the business. Shelly was working driving for his dad when he met Barbara Sasse. Originally from Hazen, Barb moved to New Salem in 1959 to teach.