Kim Rudy McMahon, daughter of the late Marion Franklin Rudy — the inventor of the historic Nike Air Sole — has given a $1.9 million gift to Case Western Reserve University to create the M. Frank Rudy and Margaret Dormiter Rudy Athletic Endowment.
The endowment to Case Western Reserve University, M. Frank Rudy’s alma mater, will go toward outfitting about 500 student-athletes who compete in the university’s 19 women’s and men’s varsity sports, according to The Daily, Case Western University’s internal communications outlet.
“Since my father is the inventor of the Nike Air Sole, it seems fitting to make sure his alma mater is always outfitted in Nike uniforms and, of course, shoes,” McMahon, who made the gift on behalf of her parents, told The Daily. “It is with great pleasure and enthusiasm to be able to create the M. Frank Rudy and Margaret Dormiter Rudy Athletic Endowment. May the teams be proud and self-confident as they compete for Case Western Reserve University.”
M. Frank Rudy was a 1950 graduate of the former Case Institute of Technology, according to The Daily, who majored in mechanical and aeronautical engineering. Shortly after his graduation, he worked with NASA on projects for the Saturn and Apollo rocket engines.
By 1969, the aerospace industry was shrinking, so Rudy followed his passions and entered the ski-equipment business. According to The Daily, Margaret’s desire for a more comfortable ski boot led Rudy to create the first air-cushioned boot that used air unit to cushion the ankle and sides of the foot. This genius idea led to the creation of the Nike Air Sole.
Rubber molding processes (which he and his former NASA colleagues had been working with) allowed for the creation of a hollowed out midsole that could fit the new Air cushioning unit, according to Sneaker History. Several manufacturers balked at Rudy’s idea, but when he got to Beaverton, OR, in 1977, Nike used the technology to create the 1978 Air Tailwind — the first shoe to use Rudy’s Air Sole technology. Rudy held more than 250 patents, according to The Daily, and his technology evolved into one of the most iconic footwear franchises of all time.
The couple is used to large endowments; in 1999 a donation of $2 million established the M. Franklin Rudy and Margaret Domiter Rudy Professorship of Biomedical Engineering, according to The Daily.
The Case Western Reserve University Spartans’ uniforms have honored Frank Rudy since 2014. Gifted by the Nike and the Rudy family, the uniforms feature a custom emblem with the initials “MFR” for Marion Franklin Rudy, a 3D design that pays tribute to the Air Sole units, and orbiting planets that honor Rudy’s career as an aerospace engineer.
“This generous endowment from the Rudy family will have a tangible impact on the daily lives of our Spartan student-athletes,” Amy Backus, director of Athletics and chair of Physical Education, told The Daily. “They compete on a national stage and represent well what this university is known for: research, competitive drive and innovation–all factors in Frank Rudy’s contribution to the Nike Air Sole technology. We are truly grateful for this wonderful gift.”
Source: The Daily