Charles Sturt University and teacher Doctor John Rudder, who was known for his key role in the recovery of Wiradjuri language has lost a six-month battle with dementia, dying aged 85 last week.
Dr Rudder's daughter Megan Elliott Rudder, who is a doctor at Riverina Medical and Dental Aboriginal Corporation, said her father had an enthusiasm for connecting with people.
She said her father, who was a man of many talents, would be remembered most for his desire to help Wiradjuri people across the region.
"I think he will be remembered by a lot of Wiradjuri people in the Riverina for helping them to speak their language and helping them to identify more with their culture," she said.
"He did a huge amount of touring in road trips around the Riverina collecting Wiradjuri words to build the dictionary - he loved a long detailed conversation.
"He also had a connection with his plants and the garden; we always had vegetables from the garden.
"He built gardens for the family; he built rocking horses for the grandchildren; he built teaching programs using his skills as a linguist and an artist; he lived a very full and vigorous life with so many interests.
"Dad was supported for 40 years by my mum Trixie Rudder, also a teacher and then for 10 years by his second wife Dr Julie Rudder OAM, who had known mum and dad for years because they all worked with Aboriginal languages and people."
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Dr Elliott Rudder said her father's colleague Dr Stan Grant Senior had a 30-year relationship with her father.
"Dad was a man who was comfortable exploring and discussing the natural and spiritual world with anyone of any culture," she said.
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 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 Rudder assisted Uncle Stan Grant in rebuilding an almost forgotten language which is a profoundly important gift to the generations yet to come.
"John complemented Stan's profound knowledge and commitment in ways that helped bring authoritative resources to people learning the language."
Spending 14 years in Arnhem Land, Dr Rudder was also known for his work with the Yirrkala and Galiwin'ku communities in the Northern Territory."He wrote down a lot of stories from old men who trusted him in Arnhem Land," Dr Eliott-Rudder said.Dr Grant Snr's son Charles Sturt Chair of Australian-Indigenous Belonging, vice chancellor professor Stan Grant Junior had no doubts that Dr Rudder had "saved" the Wiradjuri language"."Today it is flourishing and Australians of all backgrounds share in this wonderful legacy," he said."He saw a country where culture and belonging begins with the first people and all of us as Australians enter that tradition.
"For John that started with language, a language of this land, of words that could have only come from here."
Dr Eliott-Rudder said there had been a private farewell for her father with only five people in attendance but she planned to have a memorial service to conform with COVID restrictions.
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