For Craig Kaiser and his father, the Dean Rudesill Scholarship Foundation through San Diego Foundation is not only about providing scholarships to student-veterans, active-duty service members and their dependents – it’s also about remembering a family friend and man of honor.
“We wanted to do something that would one keep his name alive and continually be able to donate to a foundation, like what we have with you, and more importantly, to give back something to military veterans and their families,” Craig said. “And this is a perfect vehicle. Dean thought that it was a wonderful idea when he was alive.”
About Dean Rudesill
Dean enlisted in the U.S. Navy shortly after Pearl Harbor and the start of WWII. He was assigned to the U.S.S. Tennessee, a battleship that saw much action in the Pacific during the war.
During one battle, the large gun that Dean crewed took a close hit from a kamikaze pilot. It blew Dean two decks down into the ammunition hold. Bruised and bleeding, he made his way back to the gun to continue the fight. When you experience something like that, you develop a great affection for your mates, which is hard to achieve any other way.
After the war, Dean and a million other young men and women were released from duty. A job was hard to find and an education was almost impossible for them.
Dean never forgot those days; since he was able, he wanted to do what he could to help military veterans. Before his death in 2015, he documented his desire to establish a scholarship fund for his fellow veterans.
Serving Those Who Served
“This is our third year of issuing scholarships to veterans, active-duty and dependents,” Craig said. “Every time we do a contribution and we award a scholarship, his name is right there.”
As of this year, the Dean Rudesill Scholarship Foundation through SDF will have awarded 35 scholarships since its founding in 2020.
“I think [the number of applications we receive] gets better every year,” Craig said. “We had a lot of applications this year, we awarded 20 scholarships. I think we’re getting traction literally doubling up every year.”
While student-veterans, active-duty service members and their dependents can access 21st Century GI Bill benefits to help pay for their education, there are still other costs associated with college attendance, including transportation, textbooks and more. The Dean Rudesill Scholarship Foundation, like many other scholarship funds at SDF, helps close that gap for students.
Remembering Dean Forever
While Dean passed away in 2015, Craig hopes Dean’s legacy will live on in perpetuity through the scholarship.
“We plan on doing this for decades,” Craig said. “When I’m unable to carry on in Dean’s name, I’m going to pass that torch to my sons. It’s our intent to keep this thing going for many, many decades. And hopefully, we can continue to grow the assets so that we can award an increased number of scholarships moving forward.”
Craig appreciates the partnership he’s built with the SDF team and the breadth of reach of the Community Scholarship Program.
“We couldn’t have done without [SDF],” Craig said. “I don’t even know where we would have started. It was always our goal, but we had to search for the right partner.”
“We had many choices, as you’re aware, but we wanted to keep something local within our own community. We live in North County, so we wanted to keep it within our geographic area. The impact is on Marines and Navy personnel, who are in our backyard. So, we wanted to impact our local scholarship applicants, not just make it across the U.S., but in San Diego.”
With the means to award 35 scholarships over three years, Craig acknowledges that it is due to the ability of SDF to promote the scholarship and identify eligible applications.
“The reputation of SDF stands for itself, the ability to secure the applications – that was what we as donors are looking for. “
About the SDF Community Scholarship Program
The SDF Community Scholarship Program is made possible through the generous donor support of 146 unique charitable funds at San Diego Foundation and is the largest in the region outside of the university system. Since 1997, the program has awarded more than $46 million to more than 12,000 college students from San Diego.
If you are interested in opening a scholarship fund to support students fueling our San Diego economy, please contact Danielle Valenciano, Director of the SDF Community Scholarship Program, at DanielleV@SDFoundation.org.