In Memoriam: Pacifist, humanist Dr. Rudy Hecht dies

Rudy Hecht

Longtime FFRF Member Rudolph “Rudy” Hecht, 90, of Madison, Wis., died on Jan. 23 of “complications from having too many birthdays,” as his obituary humorously stated.

Rudy’s obituary called for donations to be made to FFRF, among other worthy nonprofits.

Rudy was born on April 16, 1927, in Hamburg, Germany, to Otto Hecht and Rose Caro Hecht. At age 6, the family left Germany to escape the Nazis as German-Jewish Holocaust refugees. They landed first in Jerusalem, then Caracas, Venezuela, and finally Mexico City, where Rudy completed college and medical school at the National University of Mexico.

In 1958, he married Ilse Heilbronn and settled in La Feria, Texas, where he began his private medical practice as a general practitioner and surgeon. In 1973, the Hecht family moved to Madison, where Rudy was a physician for the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine. He was one of the pioneers in the Department of Family Medicine, where he trained many residents as the medical director of the Northeast Family Medical Center.

Rudy was the honorary consul for Mexico to Madison and Dane County from 1973 to 2016. Rudy had a passion for secular humanism, pacifism, equality and social justice, making many volunteer medical trips to Latin America and elsewhere. In 1990, Rudy traveled to Iraq with the Fellowship of Reconciliation, carrying more than $600,000 worth of donated medical supplies destined for the Children’s Hospital in Baghdad.

His obituary ends with: “In accordance with his wishes, he will be going back to medical school,” as Rudy had donated his body to the UW body donor program to further the education of future doctors.