Dorothy's Story

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COOPERSTOWN _ Dorothy Sampson Smith Rudkin, most recently of West Palm Beach, Fla., died peacefully after a brief illness Monday, Aug. 9, 2010, in Cooperstown.
Born in New York City on Nov. 18, 1924, she was a daughter of W. T. Sampson Smith Sr. and Dorothy Stokes Bostwick Smith, and a sister of Susanne Bostwick Smith (Dean) and W. T. Sampson Smith Jr. She became the stepdaughter of Joseph Campbell, former United States Comptroller General, following her mother’s remarriage in 1950.
Dotsie attended Miss Hewitt’s Classes in New York City and the Aiken Prep School in Aiken, S.C., before graduating from Miss Porter’s School, Farmington, Conn., and Finch College in New York City.
In 1953, she and Henry A. Rudkin Jr., of Pepperidge Farm, Fairfield, Conn., were married at St. Thomas Church in New York City. Rudkin’s mother, Margaret, who began baking breads in 1937, in the kitchen of her home, went on to found the Pepperidge Farm, commercial baking company, which she built into an enormously successful business before selling it to the Campbell’s Soup Company in 1961.
Her 1963 cookbook, “The Margaret Rudkin Pepperidge Farm Cookbook,” was the first cookbook in history to make the New York Times bestseller list.Dotsie and her husband enjoyed a life of action and fun, racing sports cars for many years. In 1950, she drove the then-obscure Porsche Motor Company’s first sports car, the Porsche 356 “bathtub.” She was one of the first women to be included in the Automobile Racing Club of America.
In addition to fast autos, Dotsie excelled in fast boats from her teenage years. As a competitive sailor in the International Star Class, she followed her father and younger brother in a brilliant racing career, based on Otsego Lake, in her sleek white Star “Delilah.”
She competed not only throughout the northeast lakes district, but also in Canada, Florida and the Caribbean, and was a lifelong member of both the Otsego Lake Fleet (OTL) and the International Star Class Yacht Racing Association.
It was during one such regatta in the Caribbean that Dotsie sailed with a companion to visit her cousin, the notorious Marion “Joe” Carstairs, known as “the Fastest Woman on Water” for her highly successful powerboat-racing career. The cigar-smoking, cross-dressing Carstairs was entertaining the movie siren Tallulah Bankhead on her private island, Whale Cay, at the time, and refused to give Dotsie permission to come ashore, lest she might spoil the “party.”
Dotsie was also an accomplished markswoman, winning many National Skeet Shooting Association competitions in the U.S. In 1982, in Madrid, Spain, she became the first woman to win the World Pigeon Championship.
Later, she was a founding member of the Palm Beach Trap and Skeet Club. Taking a cue from her skeet-shooting skills and merely confirming her by-then signature daring character, she ventured farther afield, to big-game hunting in Africa, where she brought back, not surprisingly, not only wild stories but a collection of wild game trophies that gave her house in Fairfield an uncanny resemblance to the Museum of Natural History. Angling, too, held her attention, curiosity and skills, and she traveled from Cuba to Alaska in search of the ever-elusive big catch.
Her other interests and accomplishments were many and varied. A talented artist, she studied at the Art Students League in New York City and at the Artist Colony in Santa Monica, Calif. Among her more notable paintings is a portrait she completed in 1947, while living in a Lower East Side cold-water walk-up with her longtime friend, Anne Logan, who recently predeceased her. The richly painted study of a full-bodied young Tahitian woman was particularly admired by Anne’s father when he visited, and he dubbed it “Navel Engagement.”
Dotsie’s works have been exhibited in galleries throughout the country, including in New York, California and Cooperstown.
She is represented in the permanent collection of the Vermont Ski Museum in Stowe, Vt., an honor about which she was particularly pleased as she was also wellknown at one time as a daring downhill skier.
Many of the Rudkin summers were spent at their farm, Corries House, in County Carlow, Ireland. There the family raised and trained steeplechase and show horses. Dotsie’s prize, “Topless Dancer,” won the Guinness Cup in Dublin in 1975.
She also bred Selle Francais horses - a French warm blood known for its skill in jumping and dressage. One of these, “Sequoia,” won the sidesaddle championship at the 1999 National Horse Show in Madison Square Garden, New York City, where Dotsie was not only a devout attendee but also a leading member of the Ladies Committee for 35 years.
Dotsie was an avid genealogist and an archivist of her family’s Stokes, Bostwick, Sampson and Smith histories. Her forebears include greatgrandfathers, Henry S. Stokes, president of the Manhattan Life Insurance Company; Jabez A. Bostwick, a founding partner and treasurer of the Standard Oil Trust; Admiral W.T. Sampson, USN, who commanded the U.S. naval fleet in the blockade of Havana during the Spanish-American War; and Charles Smith, who served as Surgeon General of the Confederate States of America.
She was a member of the Daughters of the Cincinnati; the National Society of Colonial Dames; the National Rifle Association; the Lake and Valley Garden Club; the Cooperstown Country Club; the Cooperstown Art Association; the Fairfield Country Club; the Fairfield County Hunt Club; the Pequot Yacht Club; the River Club in New York City; and the Bath and Tennis Club in Palm Beach.
She is survived by her daughter, Margaret Mercedes Rudkin Gotwald, granddaughters, Sophie Stokes Gotwald and Olivia McClain Gotwald, and her son-in-law, Stephen Gotwald, all of West Palm Beach, Fla.; her sister, Susanne Smith Dean of Orleans, Mass.; stepbrothers, Colin Campbell of Williamsburg, Va., and Douglas Campbell of New Canaan, Conn.; and six nieces and nephews.
She was predeceased by a son, Henry A. Rudkin III; a brother, W. T. Sampson Smith; and three stepbrothers, Robert, Frederick and Alan Campbell.
Service and interment will be private at the discretion of the family.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be sent to the Cooperstown Art Association, 22 Main St., Cooperstown, NY 13326.
Funeral arrangements are under the direction of Tillapaugh Funeral Service, Cooperstown.
Published on  August 19, 2010
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