John Paul Rutherford Falconer ’43

John FaulconerJohn Paul Rutherford (Rudd) Falconer died peacefully at his Big Rock Road oasis on July 21, 2014, in his 89th year.

Rudd was born in Seneca Falls, New York on Aug. 24, 1925. He was the eldest child of Navy Captain Jonathan Paul and Eloise (Brown) Falconer and the grandson of one of the first woman doctors in New York State, Dr. C. Anna Brown. He grew up in the Finger Lakes area of upstate New York. Cayuga Lake was his stomping grounds and perhaps the reason he was most happy living by large bodies of water. Fresh or salty, it didn’t matter, as long as he could sail on it or catch fish from it.

Rudd was a Navy guy, serving on destroyers in the Pacific at the end of World War ll. He attended Brown and Cornell Universities to get his degrees in engineering and architecture; sailed small boats for Cornell’s team; met and married “Dibby” Derby; became a father of (eventually) four children and moved to Greenfield, Mass. to set up his architecture firm Bednarski, Falconer & Stein. There he designed and built his first house for his growing family on a woodsy, undeveloped tract of land overlooking the Connecticut River. The Mountain Road home (though it lacked a large body of water) provided lots of fodder for his unbridled enthusiasm for doing cool things. He was an excellent downhill skier; saw the potential for a personal ski hill and proceeded to clear the woods by hand and make a rope tow using an old tractor for power. He even mounted lights on the trees for night skiing with his kids.

In 1963, he was ready for a new adventure and accepted a job teaching architecture in Kumasi, Ghana, in West Africa. His focus was on using bamboo as a plentiful, renewable building resource. So he packed the steamer trunks, loaded up the family and easily fell in love with the West African culture. In 1969 he became a professor of architecture at Washington University in St. Louis. Feeling landlocked, he took his students to the island of Culebra, Puerto Rico for hands-on learning of new building techniques. His marriage to Dibby ended, he got rid of his worldly “stuff” and bought Lotus, an old 32 ft. wooden sailboat and called it home. It was in Culebra that he met and later married Jill Lorenz. They moved to the coast of North Carolina where they practiced together as architects. In 1993 they moved to Bayfield, having made frequent trips to visit Rudd’s offspring, who had all migrated to Lake Superior’s shores after Leslie attended Northland College.

After a lifetime of adventures around the world he found the sweet spot of life on Big Rock Road, outside of Washburn. A flock of ducks, ponds, reflecting pools, willows, ferns, two incorrigible corgis, his loving wife, four kids and enough friends to span the planet. Who could ask for more?

Rudd was preceded in death by his parents, his brother Bruce and sister Nancy.

He is survived by his wife, Jill Lorenz; his children Jonathan Falconer, Leslie Falconer, Peter Falconer (Washburn) and Andrea Falconer (Bayfield); grandchildren Max (Amy) Brown, Zoe Brown, Noble Falconer and Forrest Falconer; and great grandchild, Emily Jane.

2 thoughts on “John Paul Rutherford Falconer ’43”

  1. Sorry to learn about John’s passing. Although we were not close friends at Williston in 1943 it was interesting to see that he was a Navy destroyer man, too. I was in the Atlantic.
    That brings our class numbers down to twelve. Time marches on. He sure had a full life !

  2. I am saddened at John Paul’s passing. We all know it is inevitable, but somehow, we are never quite ready I send my sympathy and condolences to his awesome family.

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