89, of Route 169, S. Woodstock , died Monday, July 29, 2013 in UMass Memorial Hospital in Worcester. Born in Pawtucket, RI, he was the only son of Polish immigrant weavers, the late John and Mary (Grzyb) Tomasik.
Rudy owned and operated Woodstock Airport for 60 years. His love of aviation began in grade school, when he won many first place prizes in model airplane contests. At 14 he was the gopher (go for) at the seaplane base in New Bedford, MA the year it was destroyed by the 1938 hurricane. He soloed at age 18, and logged over 5100 flight hours without an accident in his lifetime. Throughout his career as fixed base operator, Rudy trained hundreds of pilots, licensed many at his part 141 school, maintained and inspected airplanes as an A&P and FAA IA, ran a “jumpers” club for years, ran the Woodstock RC Flyers radio control club, and offered local citizens the chance to see the annual Woodstock “Fair from the Air” initially “for just a penny a pound.” In his early years at the airport, Rudy worked multiple shifts as a weaver and maintained machinery in local mills throughout the area. Rudy cared for his mother, Mary, throughout her life, and Mary ran the 1950’s style “snack bar” until she passed away in 1987 at the age of 91.
Rudy was a World War II veteran and the only surviving member of his army unit. He held a war service appointment with the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) at Langley Field, Virginia, where his work included tests on Howard Hughes’ Spruce Goose model. Later, Rudy hoped to join the Army Air Corp, but he was drafted and deployed during the Battle of the Bulge with Headquarters Company, 319th Infantry Regiment, 80th Division of Patton’s Third Army. As an Intelligence and Reconnaissance (I&R) scout, Rudy was commended two Silver Stars and one Bronze Star, and he assisted in liberation of the Buchenwald Nazi concentration camp at war’s end.
Rudy also joined the Civil Air Patrol during WW II and took part in many CAP squadrons in Virginia and his local area, including as squadron commander of the CAP at his airport during the 1955 hurricane. Rudy received the Charles Taylor Award from FAA for 50 years as an A&P (airframe and powerplant) mechanic in 2004, and the Wright Brothers Award for 50 years as a Master Pilot in 2006. He was a member of American Legion in Woodstock, and the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) in Putnam.
Rudy will be remembered for his passion for recreational aviation and radio control flying, his love of dancing, and DJ-ing at the VFW. He inspired all he met through his strong, visible qualities of his vintage authenticity, generosity, honesty, integrity, exuberance and his self-deprecating sense of humor.
Rudy is survived by his daughter, Holly Markham and her husband David; grandchildren Kayla and Landon; and many friends from his Woodstock Airport family. Relatives, friends and the general public are invited to a graveside service with Military Honors for Rudy at 12:30 pm on Saturday August 3, 2013 in Elmvale Cemetery, Roseland Park Rd. (near Senexet Road), Woodstock, CT, followed by a gathering at the VFW, 207 Providence St., Putnam, CT. For memorial guestbook visit www.GilmanAndValade.com.