Tue August 27, 2013
Broadcaster Who Helped Shape City Of Wausau Dies At 89
Wausau philanthropist and broadcasting pioneer Dick Dudley is dead at the age of 89.
When you drive into Wausau, the first thing you see is the 10-story Dudley Tower that rises over the city's downtown. Dick Dudley built the city's only skyscraper, and his career in broadcasting and his millions in donations put Wausau on the map in other ways.
Jean Tehan is the executive director of the Community Foundation of North Central Foundation, which gave Dick Dudley its first ever Spirit of Philanthropy Award. “Dick gave in large, splashy ways, and he gave in quiet ways. He leaves behind a huge legacy, and a huge hole for everyone to fill.”
Dudley saved the local American Legion headquarters. His service in the Navy in World War II earned him 12 medals, including the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Purple Heart. After the war, he became president of WSAW-TV, the first station in north-central Wisconsin. His news director, Mark Zelich, admired his plain-spoken honesty.
“Dick was direct,” says Zelich. “You never had to worry about which side he was coming from or anything. If there was any kind of communication with him, it was direct.”
Dudley was inducted into the Wisconsin Broadcasters Hall of Fame. His company, Forward Communications, amassed an empire of radio and TV stations.
According to Zelich, Dudley built more than his tower. “Dick, for his time, was a visionary. It was his ability to look down that path, and see what could be built – and he built it.”
Dick Dudley leaves behind his wife Nancy, four children, and many grandchildren.