Joseph (“Joe”) Rudd

Joe Rudd's 20-year legal career coincided with Alaska's first twenty years as a state. During the first decade of statehood, Alaska witnessed the early implementation of the Statehood Act, the Great Alaska Earthquake of March 27, 1964 (magnitude 9.2 on the Richter Scale), the political awakening of Alaska's Native people, the discovery of the largest oilfield in North America, and a federal land freeze which halted the conveyance of federal lands to the state and threatened the promises of Alaska Statehood. The second decade saw the passage of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA), the construction of the 800-mile long Trans Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS), and the political battle over what lands in Alaska should be designated as federal parks, refuges, or other conservation areas. (This political battle became known as D2 - named after the temporary withdrawals made in the early 1970s pursuant to section 17(d)(2) of ANCSA.) During his career, Joe Rudd was involved in significant ways in virtually every one of these events.

Joe became aware of the Foundation, its publications, and educational activities at least as early as 1960. We know from his correspondence that, while working in the Attorney General's Office crafting a new mining law and regulations for Alaska in 1960-1961, Joe relied heavily on the Foundation's just-published American Law of Mining (1st ed. 1960) for its thorough and scholarly analysis of the federal mining laws and the decades of judicial decisions construing them. Later, while in private practice, Joe became a member of the Foundation and began attending its annual institutes. Eventually, through the efforts of Joe Rudd, the Alaska Bar Association became a governing organization of the Foundation in 1972, and from 1972 until his death in 1978, Joe served as a Trustee of the Foundation representing the Alaska Bar Association. As noted above, Joe also delivered a paper on Alaska lands and minerals at the 20th Annual Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Institute in 1974, and in 1978 Joe served as Program Chairman for the Foundation Special Institute on Alaska Mineral Development.

Upon his untimely death in December 1978, his colleagues, friends, and family paid tribute to Joe by establishing a scholarship fund in his name to be administered by the Foundation. The Joe Rudd Scholarship was the first scholarship fund established and administered by the Foundation. The scholarship committee for the fund consisted of a member of Joe’s family, a member of his law firm, and a member at large. At the request of the family, after 41 years, it was time for a transition to a new arrangement that would continue to honor Joe Rudd, encourage law students to pursue careers in natural resources law, provide a vehicle for other legacy and recognition scholarship donations that can be acknowledged by the Foundation in perpetuity, and allow for the awarding of all scholarships by the Foundation’s Scholarships Committee. The Board approved a proposal to establish a legacy scholarship fund with the seed money being the remainder of the Joe Rudd scholarship funds. In 2023, the first scholarships were awarded from the new Legacy Scholarship Fund.

Finally, Joe Rudd's legal legacy lives on within the firm he co-founded in 1961. The practice of natural resources law for mining clients, oil and gas clients, and Native corporations remains a significant part of the firm's practice. More important than any firm, however, are the more subtle places where Joe's legacy remains with us today in such places as in the language of the state mining law, in the projects that came to pass as a result in part of his good counsel, and in the wise, judicious, and craftsman-like way he practiced law and mentored others in the practice of law. That legacy endures today.

Much of the above detailed biography of Joe Rudd comes from the online tribute at: