My wife wanted me to share this story about Bill Rudden. She shared it on Anne McCormack's blog and since Anne enjoyed it, she thought others might. Here's her story:
"Bill and I ran into each other birding almost every other day for the past five years, whether at Tower Grove Park or Carondelet Park or Riverlands or wherever the birds were. Although he'd become a pretty solitary birder, he would always check in on what I was finding when he saw me. As we shared our finds, we'd often end up walking and finding birds together. Bill was like that. Easy going, casual, down-to-earth and friendly, as other birders have attested. I didn't expect this from a man I knew was an extraordinary birder - this humility. Although many other birders can attest to the extraordinary and yet humble birder he was, I think what I loved most about him was that he could be completely outrageous and unpredictable. My fondest memory of such a time is the day I realized he was either seriously comfortable in my presence or he was pulling a Rudden and trying to see if he could shock me. I was birding at Tower Grove Park near Jack's Pond one afternoon when I see Bill pull up in his van and start walking toward me. He starts asking me what birds I'd been seeing, how I'd ID'ed them and such. He got into teacher mode and was throwing around words like 'supraloral' and 'undertail coverts' and other terms as he talked about the birds. I knew he was testing me. He knew I was a bit lazy and resistant to learning bird lingo. Once again, (this was a game with us) I recalcitrantly stated I didn't care to know my 'remige' from my 'rectrice.' I was expecting to hear him say once again that I need to learn this stuff to be a good birder, but instead, he says, with complete nonchalance, 'Hey, since we're gonna be talking a while, let me go put my teeth in.' My jaw dropped. I blurted, 'What?' I hadn't even noticed he didn't have his teeth in. (Well, I didn't even know he had false teeth in the first place.) 'Let me go get my teeth,' he said again like he was commenting on the weather. Recovering my composure, (okay, so he did shock me for a second or two) I said 'Sure, you go get your teeth.' He walked to his van, plopped in his teeth and moseyed on back like nothing had happened, picking right up with a lesson on primary and secondary feathers. I love him for this memory and for the biggest smile ever that appears on my face every single time I remember it. Thank you BILL!!!!!!!!!!! I will miss miss miss you. - Chrissy McClarren"
St. Louis MO
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