S1c Rudolph Theiller

Unknown Sailor

S1c Rudolph Theiller

Rudolph Theiller’s parents wanted him to go to college, but he didn’t want to burden them with that cost, his brother, Robert, recalled years later.

He was “well oriented about what he wanted to do with his life and where he was going and how he was going to get there,” his friend, Larry Graham, said.

Mr. Theiller decided to learn a trade by joining the Navy, which he did on Aug. 6, 1940.

He was a seaman first class on the U.S.S. Arizona when he was killed in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7, 1941.

Rudy, as he was known, was born July 24, 1922 in Sonoma County, California to Rudolph Julius Theiller, owner of an apple farm, and Martha Block Theiller, a homemaker. He grew up near Sebastopol about five miles west-southwest of Santa Rosa and graduated in 1939 from Sebastopol’s Analy High School, where he played basketball and football.

He participated in Future Farmers of America and received an award from the governor as one of the top agriculture students in California. He showed Hampshire and Duroc hogs.

Mr. Theiller is well remembered in his hometown. A plaque in his memory was dedicated at Analy High in 2006. The sports fields at Ragle Ranch Park were named in his honor in 2017.

A day or two before his brother’s death, Robert received a letter from him along with $2 — a gift for the boy’s 14th birthday. The letter said “do what I didn’t do. Get good grades in school and go to college.”

Robert, known as Bob, earned a business degree from the University of California at Berkeley. And 65 years after Rudy’s death, Bob told a reporter he still had the $2 bill.


Sources: The Press Democrat of Santa Rosa, California; the Sonoma West Times & News of Healdsburg, California; The Petaluma (California) Argus-Courier; Census; California birth index; Navy muster roll. This profile was researched and written on behalf of the U.S.S. Arizona Mall Memorial at the University of Arizona.

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