Jan. 1—A longtime police officer with the Kokomo Police Department, former police chief, Street Department employee and city councilman, has died.
Lynn "Rudy" Rudolph died Friday after a bout with pancreatic cancer, his family announced on social media. He was 82.
Rudolph spent all of his adult life serving Kokomo, a community he loved. He was hired on to the Kokomo Police Department in June 1962. He would work for the department for 33 years in various roles, including inspector of police operations, inspector of criminal investigation and special investigations division and assistant police chief before serving eight years as police chief under the Bob Sargent administration. Rudolph was instrumental in starting KPD's first drug enforcement task force.
During his tenure with the the police department, Rudolph was named 1980 "Law Officer of the Year" by the American Legion, Parade's Magazine's 1973 International Association of Chiefs of Police Ten Outstanding Officers of the Year and was commended by then-Indiana Governor Otis R. Bowen as "Officer of the Year." He retired from KPD in 1995.
He then worked six years as campaign director for United Way of Howard County.
Rudolph also worked 15 years as a construction foreman for the city's Street Department. More recently, he was elected to the Kokomo City Council in 2019 to represent district two. As a councilman, he advocated for more hiring of police officers and firefighters and more government transparency.
His niece Lacey Dee Rudolph described her uncle as "true blue," and an "extremely loyal" man whose death has left a hole in her heart.
"He was always kind, even if he may not feel like being kind," she said. "He was always honest even when he knew it may hurt. He was always giving. He gave everything he had to his family. No questions asked."
Mike Holsapple, a retired KPD officer and a good friend of Rudolph's, said Rudolph was a strong believer in the role of law enforcement, a staunch advocate for community policing, a "forward thinker," a devout husband to his wife Vivian and father figure to his two children and grandchildren and also a person who always invited friends and family into his home.
"Their house was always open, almost quite literally," Holsapple said. "It was a place where people could talk, philosophize on how they could contribute to their community. I've really never witnessed anything like it."
Fighting tears, Holsapple reminisced about a time when Rudolph assigned him to investigate bicycle thefts.
"I was so disoriented about that with him because why would you waste my talent on finding children's bicycles?" Holsapple said. "So I asked him. He looked at me and smiled and said 'Michael, if you can find their bike, someone will one day come to you and ask to find their daughter.' That day came. ... A young woman went missing and we brought that woman home. That was because of Lynn."
In a statement, Kokomo Mayor Tyler Moore described Rudolph's impact on the city as one that will be "felt for decades."
"The integrity and prestige Rudy brought to the Kokomo Police Department during his time on the force and while at its helm is the same level of excellence he worked to ensure in every aspect of local government these past three years as District 2 City Councilman," Moore said. "He never stopped mentoring those that shared his love for this community. And his selfless public service was second to none and only paled in comparison to his role as a loving husband, father, grandfather and friend."
A funeral service will be held at 11 a.m. Friday at Shirley & Stout Funeral Home, 1315 W. Lincoln Road. A celebration of life will be held at 6 p.m. Saturday at the Kokomo FOP, 102 W. Markland Ave.
Rudolph's death leaves a vacancy on the City Council. Howard County Republican Party Chairwoman Jennifer Jack said the party will hold a caucus in the near future to fill the vacancy.
Tyler Juranovich can be reached at 765-454-8577, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @tylerjuranovich.