Vale Dr John Rudder

29 JULY 2021

Vale Dr John Rudder

Dr John Rudder who was known for his key role in the recovery of Wiradjuri language in New South Wales and his work with the Yirrkala and Galiwin’ku communities in the Northern Territory has died aged 85.

Dr Stan Grant Snr AM is saddened to announce that his friend and long-term collaborator, Dr John Rudder, died on Saturday 24 July in Sydney at the age of 85.

Dr Rudder was known for his key role in the recovery of Wiradjuri language in New South Wales and his work with the Yirrkala and Galiwin’ku communities in the Northern Territory.

Emeritus Professor in the Charles Sturt School of Education, Stephen Kemmis said Dr Rudder made an extraordinary contribution to the recovery of Wiradjuri language through his 30-year partnership with Dr Stan Grant Snr.

“The pair researched and published the Wiradjuri dictionaries, grammar book and developed Wiradjuri language classes in communities, TAFE colleges and the Graduate Certificate in Wiradjuri Language, Heritage and Culture at Charles Sturt University,” Professor Kemmis said.

“John complemented Stan’s profound knowledge and commitment in ways that helped bring authoritative resources to people learning the language.”

Professor Kemmis reflected on Dr Rudder’s enthusiasm for rebuilding Australia’s Indigenous languages as a passion that would “light up the room” and that his legacy would continue to inspire students to reconnect with the language and the lifeways of their Ancestors.

“John Rudder assisted Uncle Stan Grant in rebuilding an almost forgotten language which is a profoundly important gift to the generations yet to come,” Professor Kemmis said.

Charles Sturt Chair of Australian-Indigenous Belonging, Vice Chancellor Professor Stan Grant Jnr, said Dr Rudder saw an Australia that not everyone sees.

“He saw a country where culture and belonging begins with the first people and all of us as Australians enter that tradition,” he said.

“For John that started with language, a language of this land, of words that could have only come from here.

“John’s work with my dad, Dr Stan Grant Snr, helped save our Wiradjuri language. Today it is flourishing and Australians of all backgrounds share in this wonderful legacy.

“Thank you, John, you weren’t just a great friend to us, you were one of us”.

Balladhu Wiradjuri Gibir. Dyiramadalinya Badhu Wiradjuri.

In the Northern Territory, Dr Kathy Guthadjaka AM and Colin Baker said of John’s loss, “Spirit-filled friends that work closely with us Yolngu of Arnhemland are few and valued.  John Rudder was one such friend. My uncle, my brother in Christ and my friend, he saw my road and pointed me in the right direction. He related to people on the level they were at, always drawing just a little higher. We miss him already.”

Dr Rudder was welcomed into the Rirratjingu family of Yirrkala and the Gondarra family of Galiwin’ku. He learned from Yolngu elders’ law, culture and art forms and he integrated an understanding of culture and faith, based in relationships.

Three of Dr Rudder’s paintings have been selected as part of the private farewell and Rev. Maratja Dhamarrahandji was very moved to see them.

“I’m honoured on behalf of all Yolngu Nation of NE Arnhemland to comment on these paintings. Garray Marrkapmirr Djesu!” Rev Dhamarrahandji said.

“Just to see these pictures and the work and remember the ministry that John accomplished in his lifetime, gives hope to Yolngu to run with the gospel in whatever way that the Lord leads. These paintings are a deep encouragement.”

John Cornish Rudder was born in Fairfield NSW on 28 November 1935. He lived in Terrey Hills and previously in Canberra and in Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory.

Dr Rudder died peacefully on Saturday 24 July 2021 at Hammondcare North Turramurra.

He will always be loved and remembered by his wife Julie, his sister Jan, sister in-law Roslyn, his children Megan, Matthew, Catherine and Fiona, their families, and many friends, particularly including Wiradjuri people and Yolngu people, who also remember with love his first wife Trixie (deceased).

Dr Rudder was a man of deep faith, and he was an accomplished artist, musician, academic, linguist and teacher. John is now with the Lord.

A private farewell is planned this week in Sydney with less than 10 people and a memorial service will be held when restrictions allow.

Media Note:

For further information, contact Lisa Ditchfield at Charles Sturt Media on mobile 0417 125 795 or via

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