Early in life, Sean Rudolph adopted the motto “Forward, Forward, Forward” from tennis legend Billie Jean King. Artists, actors, chefs, food lovers, tennis players, and many others were attracted to his positive approach to life. He was an entrepreneur, an arts enthusiast and supporter, a sports fan and athlete, a foodie, an Aggie, a loyal friend, a devoted family member, and a beloved husband.
Sean adored both New York City and his hometown, Houston, where he is known as a champion of contemporary visual art. He owned and operated Rudolph/Blume Fine Art/ArtScan Gallery, along with his husband Brad Blume and art impresario Dr. Volker Eisele. He supported the Glassell School Core Residency Program at the Houston Museum of Fine Arts, the Houston Sculpture Project, and hundreds of visual artists, whose work he added to the Rudolph/Blume Collection. He was the associate producer of “Voice of the Amazon,” a 1990 documentary investigating the battle between those who worked to preserve the Amazon rainforest’s unique ecosystem and those who exploited it.
Sean took great pride in working with Brad in their Houston-based business Tennis Express, which they started in a small apartment, and built into one of the largest internet and brick and mortar tennis retailers in the country. Sean was playful and light-hearted with customers and team members alike, all of whom were drawn to his gracious manner and keen sense of humor.
Over the years, he served as a mentor to countless young people in his employ – guiding them through life’s challenges, encouraging them to stay in school, and teaching them to work diligently and become model citizens. He strongly believed in giving people second, and sometimes even third chances. With Sean and Brad’s commitment, Tennis Express became a presenting sponsor of the Houston National Junior Tennis and Learning Program (NJTL), which offers free tennis and education to underserved children across the greater Houston area.
Sean’s enthusiasm for his alma mater, Texas A&M University, was apparent when he told stories about Fish Camp, his friends in the Corps of Cadets, Ring Dance, the Class of ’81 leadership projects, and his countless friends from those cherished days. Sean was remembered at the 2017 Aggie Muster Roll Call on April 21st.
Sean and Brad frequently attended theatrical performances in NYC, where their shared passion for live theatre evolved into a deeper commitment. They launched their own production company and became investors of Broadway shows including Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, The Color Purple, Of Mice and Men, Groundhog Day, and Dear Evan Hansen. As their interest grew, so, too, their involvement. Currently, they are co-producers on the musicals An American in Paris, Anastasia, and The Band’s Visit, with plans to support future productions.
Sean enjoyed being a regular patron of renowned dining establishments such as Le Bernardin, Per Se, Eleven Madison Park, and Jean Georges in New York City, as well as Uchi and Vieng Thai in Houston. He wanted everyone to have a good time, and party favors, piñatas, cheap plastic jewelry, and kitschy Christmas sweaters added to the fun of his frequent gatherings of friends and family. He joyously celebrated every occasion and milestone, and never missed an opportunity to share a laugh, a drink, and a meal with those he cherished. Fittingly, Sean’s favorite party glasses are embellished with the slogan, “Don’t Stop the Party.”
A lifelong athlete, Sean was a champion swimmer at Robert E. Lee High School in Baytown, Texas, and he was offered college scholarships. His battle with cancer did not deter him from his athletic endeavors. Sean continued lifting heavy weights and pushing toward his goal of becoming the first contender over age 55 to compete on American Ninja Warrior. Many of his team members at Tennis Express joined him in the gym in friendly weight-lifting competitions, where Sean’s physical strength made him the frequent winner against competitors half his age.
Until the day he passed, Sean expanded his art collection, developed ideas for new Broadway productions, continued booking flights to exciting destinations, and enchanted us with his remarkable dignity and grace.
After a lengthy and valiant battle – during which he amazed and inspired everyone with his determination and remarkable energy – Sean passed away on November 2, 2016, with his devoted husband at his side. In testament to the love and light that Sean put forth in the world, dozens of friends and family members remained at his bedside to express their tearful goodbyes and to support Brad. We wanted him to live forever, and he will. His joy still resonates in the songs, dances, visual art, and lives he so generously enriched.
A celebration of Sean Rudolph’s life will be held Monday night, September 25, 2017, in Houston, Texas. Everyone is welcome to attend. Please visit SeanRudolph.com and sign up for email notifications about the event. Also, share your photos and memories of Sean on this website as well.
Remembrances for Sean Rudolph can be directed to the Rudolph Blume Foundation, which continues Sean’s legacy by supporting and promoting emerging artists in the fields of contemporary art and theater, and by supporting Broadway Cares and the Sean Rudolph Musical Theater Scholarship.
Sean is survived by his husband of 23 years, Brad Blume; Cooper, Sean and Brad’s beloved dog; his mother, Alleen McCutcheon Rudolph; mother-in-law, Sophia Louise Blume; brothers, Troy Rudolph, Jr. and Brett Rudolph; brothers-in-law, Greg Blume (Dina) and Keith Blume (Sheila); sister-in-law, Lori Blume; nephews, Troy Rudolph, III (Suniya), Devon Rudolph, Austin Rudolph (Alexandra), Spencer Rudolph, Barrett Blume (Lauren), Ben Blume, Brandon Blume, Brian Blume, and Joshua Blume; nieces, Becky Blume Davis (Jared), Heather Blume, Leigh’Ann White Andrews (Jordan), Katelyn White, Amanda Blume, Andrea Blume Segura (Cristian), and Hannah Blume Rogers (Jared); aunt, Virginia Blume; and eight great nephews and two great nieces, as well as many other devoted friends and family.
Sean was preceded in death by his father, Troy Rudolph, Sr.; brother, Charles Rudolph; father-in-law, Lloyd Blume; brother-in-law, Steve Blume; and nephew, Brent Blume.