In passing

SUNDAY, DEC. 26, 2004

Preston Toledo, 81, Navajo Code Talker

Santa Fe, N.M. Preston Toledo, a member of the Navajo Code Talkers group that invented a military code based on the Navajo language to confound the Japanese during World War II, died Dec. 15 after a car accident, his family said. He was 81.

A member of the Navajo Bitter Water People Clan, Toledo was born on Nov. 23, 1923, in Broncho.

Family members said he was a humble man who didn’t brag about his role in the war or about a famous photograph of him and his cousin Frank Toledo relaying orders over a field radio while in the South Pacific. The photograph is part of the Smithsonian Institution’s collection.

Toledo was awarded the Bronze Star, American Campaign Medal, Asiatic Pacific Campaign Medal, World War II Victory Medal and China Service Medal. He served from 1941 until 1945 but didn’t receive the medals and recognition until about 10 years ago, family members said.

Code talkers were not allowed to discuss their work when they returned home after the war. It wasn’t until 1968 that the Defense Department first released information on the code talkers.

Felipe Toledo said his grandfather was proud of what he helped do during World War II.

“He was very special, very dear. He was a holy man,” Felipe Toledo said, explaining that his grandfather was a roadman – a kind of minister – in the Native American Church.

Ray Rude, 88, inventor, philanthropist

Stanley, N.D. Ray Rude, who went from doing farm work at age 5 to becoming a multimillionaire benefactor after developing the Duraflex diving board, died Thursday at a medical center here. He was 88.

Mitch Leupp, administrator of the Mountrail County Medical Center in Stanley, Rude’s hometown, said Rude died Thursday. He earlier had donated $1 million to the hospital, allowing it to build a new facility.

Rude also was known as a benefactor to the University of North Dakota, his alma mater. He recently donated $1.75 million to help build the Ina Mae Rude Entrepreneur Center on the UND campus in memory of his late wife.

Rude left Stanley as a teenager and worked as a tool engineer for aircraft companies. In 1948, he developed an aluminum diving board from a discarded airplane wing panel. It led to his Nevada-based Duraflex diving company, which has made thousands of the diving boards used in the Olympics since 1960.

Rude returned to his hometown from Nevada two years ago. Leupp said he’d donated more than $1 million to the Stanley School District.

Ruth Tantaquidgeon, Mohegan matriarch

Uncasville, Conn. Ruth Etta Tantaquidgeon, one of the two matriarchs of the Mohegan tribe, died Wednesday, a funeral home said. She was 95.

Tantaquidgeon, along with her sister Gladys, was credited with helping the Mohegan Tribe gain federal recognition.

The sisters were 10th-generation descendants of Uncas, the Mohegan sachem, or chief, who settled at Fort Shantok. Gladys Tantaquidgeon, who is 105, is now the last surviving full-blooded Mohegan.

In the early 1990s, Ruth Tantaquidgeon organized a large collection of family memorabilia, which included correspondences and notices of births, funerals, graduations, marriages, military and tribal records. The documents proved vital to the tribe’s federal recognition effort.


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