NASHUA - News of the death of former U.S. Sen. Warren Rudman seemed to strike a common chord among his friends and supporters - the country could use more Warren Rudmans in times like these.
Rudman, who grew up in Nashua and started his law practice in the city, was a Korean War veteran, a lawyer, an attorney general, and one of the three founders of Daniel Webster College.
According to Jim Tamposi, he had another credential: "He was just an outstanding guy."
Tamposi, who was neighbors with Rudman on Indian Rock Road, in the north of Nashua, became best friends with Rudman's son, Alan. But it was the affinity for aviation his father shared with Rudman that would lead to the formation of the college.
"Warren Rudman loved aviation and my dad loved aviation, and together they founded Daniel Webster College to teach people to fly," Tamposi said.
When the college was sold to the parent company of ITT Technical Institutes, it was decided that the flight division would close for lack of profitability, Tamposi said. Both his father and Rudman were sad about the decision, but the school is still going strong.
Hannah McCarthy was the president of Daniel Webster College for 25 years. Rudman spent 15 years as chairman of the college's board, from its opening in 1965 until he was elected senator in 1980. McCarthy said it was in Washington that Rudman would do some of his best work.
"To me he was a true statesman of a different period," she said. "I think he was probably one of the finest senators New Hampshire ever will have had."
McCarthy, currently the president of Newbury College, recalled a task-master and a master storyteller.
"He was an amazing raconteur, and if you had the privilege to spend time with him when he was just telling stories, his stories were remarkable and his humor was tremendous."
"On a few occasions that I had the opportunity to sit with him while he told stories. It was just wonderful."
Former state Sen. Andy Peterson was one among many of Rudman's protégés. He said Rudman was a Golden Gloves boxer and a champion debater - two talents that made for a mean combo.
Peterson's father, Gov. Walter Peterson, who served from 1969 to 1973, appointed Rudman attorney general in 1970, 10 years after Rudman had graduated from law school.
When Rudman was elected to the Senate in 1980, he took the governor's son to Washington as one of his first staffers.
"He was one of the outstanding political leaders of our generation," Peterson said.
"It was a time when you were able to bring new ideas to the table and really have an impact . and in a very short time he was considered to be a legislator of great stature in Washington. He's a person that truly made his mark in the national government on behalf of our state."
Peterson said he worked with Rudman on the bipartisan Small Business Innovation Research Act, which was signed in 1982 and continues to be an important resource for tech companies in New Hampshire and across the country.
"In many ways he really represents the best of Republicanism," Peterson said, "a problem-solving kind of person."
"It was a real loss when Warren decided not to run again. I think he got frustrated with Washington and felt that he wanted to do other things with his life. It was certainly a loss for the state."
Nashua Mayor Donnalee Lozeau said Rudman was always willing to mentor those interested in doing the right thing.
"Considering the times and financial situation facing the nation," Lozeau said, "we would do well to honor his memory by considering what action and direction Sen. Rudman might have offered."
- - - - - - - -Simon Rios may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.