Many students spend 12 years in the Salem City School District. Local pupils usually start off at one of the four elementary schools, matriculate at Andrew Lewis Middle School and get their diploma from Salem High School. Some school personnel hold their positions for nearly twice that many years.
Susie Rudolph was hired as the athletic secretary and bookkeeper for Salem High School in 1996. On Wednesday, February 28, she officially retired after 22 years.
“I’m going to be 62 in April. I was going to wait until 65 to retire, but there is a saying that goes ‘when it’s time to go you will know,’” she said. “These people have become my family. The relationships that I’ve built will last a lifetime.”
Born in Roanoke, Susie studied at Virginia Western Community College after graduating from Andrew Lewis High School in 1974. The daughter of Virginia and Robert Rudolph says she developed a passion for helping others at an early age.
“My first job in the education field was at Arnold Burton Vocational School in Salem,” Susie said. “I started in 1979 and worked there as a secretary for about nine years. After that, I was employed at Lewis Gale Hospital for a couple of years before coming back to the school system.”
When Susie began her employment at Salem High, she didn’t have a computer at her desk. “Everything was done on a typewriter,” she said. “Nowadays everything is done electronically.”
Those who have worked with Susie over the years describe her as kind, jovial and productive.
“She’s probably one of my favorite people I’ve ever worked with,” Trina Bateman, head cheerleading coach and attendance secretary, said. “You couldn’t meet a nicer person. She would literally give you the shirt off her back.”
Said Assistant Principal Chris King, “She is the heart and soul of Salem High School’s main office staff. What she’s done here in the last 22 years…I just don’t know how we can find somebody to replace her. As great a person as she is, she’s even better at her job.”
Even those who didn’t work with Susie know how genuine a person she is. “Susie Rudolph has been one of those tireless workers who is behind the scenes making everything run smoothly. When something needs to get done, she is the one people turn to. She always goes about her tasks with a smile,” Salem Times~Register Sports Editor Brian Hoffman said.
During Susie’s tenure, the Spartans won multiple state football championships and were highly competitive in many other sports. The thing that Susie has appreciated the most about Salem High athletes over the years is their humility.
“It would be easy to get a big head for a high school athlete that gets a lot of attention. That isn’t the case here,” she said. “I can’t recall a time when I saw an athlete that wasn’t humble and didn’t behave in a respectable manner.”
Prior to Scott Habeeb being named Salem High Principal in July 2013, John Hall held that position for many years. “Mr. Hall was a teacher here before he became the principal. He reminded me a lot of my dad,” Susie said. “I’ve always appreciated the new ideas that Mr. Habeeb came up with. Both gentlemen were great to work with. My two athletic directors, Chris King and Sandy Hadaway, were also two people that I greatly admired.”
Susie plans on enjoying her retirement to the fullest. The mother of two looks forward to doing some traveling and spending more time with family.
“My granddaughter, Virginia, was just accepted at VCU in the Music Program. Also, my daughter is about to go through the adoption process to try and find an infant. I want to be around to help,” Susie said. ”Just like at Salem High, my job has always been to be of service and help others.”