Portrait courtesy of the Library of Congress photograph collection.
The second oddly named political figure from Washington, D.C. to be profiled here on the site, Cuno Hugo Rudolph's political claim-to-fame rests on his service as the president of the Washington, D.C. Board of Commissioners. As the governing body of the District of Columbia from 1874 to 1967, the Board of Commissioners was made up of three members, of which one would be elected as President of the Board. Maryland native Cuno H. Rudolph served as president of this Board on two separate occasions, holding the post for a total of eight years.
Born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland, Cuno Hugo Rudolph's birth occurred in that city on June 26, 1860. The son of Jacob and Elizabeth Yerger Rudolph, young Cuno was noted as having attended private schools in the city of his birth and would go on to study at both the Stadtler Business College and the Bryant and Stratton Business College. Rudolph removed from Baltimore around 1889 and soon after resettled in Washington, D.C., where he would become engaged in the hardware business, having bought a small share in the local hardware firm of J.H. Chesley and Co. Rudolph would eventually establish his own hardware firm, operating under the name of Rudolph and West Co., of which he served as president. Rudolph married on June 8, 1901 to Amy Edna Merz (1868-1951), and the couple is recorded as being childless through the duration of their thirty-year marriage.
While still attentive to his hardware firm, Cuno Rudolph began to branch out into other areas of Washington, D.C. business life, including service as the President of the West Brothers Brick Company. Rudolph also made headway into the financial affairs of the city, being a Vice President of the National Metropolitan Bank, a director of the Union Savings Bank, a vice president of the Washington D.C. Board of Trade, and was the director of the Washington D.C., Chamber of Commerce.
From the Washington, D.C. Herald, September 1, 1910.
Sources of the time denote that Mr. Rudolph was involved in numerous charitable societies and fraternal organizations in our nation's capital, attaining high office in nearly all of them. In the early 1900s, he was instrumental in the establishment of the Washington D.C. Public Playground Committee, serving as the group's chairman for several years. He would occupy the post of chairman of the Public Playground Association and maintained memberships in the Prisoner's Aid Society, the Association for the Prevention of Tuberculosis, the Columbia Historical Society and the Washington Country Club. In addition to all of the above, Rudolph would also serve as a trustee and executive board member of Howard University.
In 1910 President William Howard Taft appointed Cuno Rudolph as a member of the Washington, D.C. Board of Commissioners, and he officially entered into office in January of that year. He was elected as Board President by his fellow commissioners shortly afterward and continued in the office until resigning in March 1913, when he was named a member of the District of Columbia's Public Utilities Commission, serving in office until July of that year. Following his resigning from that office in July 1913 Rudolph returned to his banking interests in the capital, serving as the president of the Second National Bank of Washington until 1921.
In 1921 Rudolph was reappointed to the D.C. Board of Commissioners by then President Warren Harding and was again elected Board President, serving until his resignation in October 1926. Following his departure, the Who Was Who In America 1897-1942 notes that Rudolph was "tendered a dinner by 1,000 citizens" in December 1926, and was later presented with a "silver service by the people of Washington."
After leaving the office of commissioner Cuno Rudolph continued to be active in the civic affairs in Washington, and in 1930 was tapped to head the District of Columbia Bicentennial Commission, organized to celebrate the 1932 bicentennial celebration of George Washington's birth. Shortly before the celebration of Washington's bicentennial birth (which was to take place on February 22, 1932), Cuno Rudolph died, his death occurring on January 6, 1932. He was later interred at the Lorraine Park Cemetery in Woodlawn, Baltimore County, Maryland. His wife Amy survived him by nearly twenty years, dying at age 83 in 1951, and was later buried in the same cemetery as her husband.
Cuno Hugo Rudolph, around the time of his service on the D.C. Board of Commissioners.