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April 15, 1905: Birth of Mayor C. Rudolph Berghult

On this day in Duluth in 1905, future Duluth mayor C. Rudolph Berghult was born right here in the Zenith City. After graduating from Denfeld High School in 1923, Berghult was educated first at the Superior State Teacher’s College across the bay before transferring to Gustavus Adolphus in St. Peter, Minnesota, to complete his B.A. in the social sciences. He landed a job teaching social sciences and coaching basketball at Upsala College in East Orange, New Jersey. While there he enrolled in Columbia University, taking six years to earn his M.A. in education by way of part-time courses focusing on “city government and public finance.” He then taught at Long Island’s Oceanside High School before he was sent abroad in 1932 on three separate missions arranged by his former professors at Columbia. He attended the International Council on Local Authorities in London, visited the Geneva School of International Studies in Switzerland, and “investigated administration of justice in Sweden” for a special commission appointed by Franklin D. Roosevelt, then New York’s governor. When he returned he went to the United States Congress of Mayors in Chicago, where he taught naturalization classes. He was instrumental to the development of the Work Projects Administration’s adult education program. So when Berghult returned to the Zenith City, running for mayor was almost a natural step in his civic career. Before that he married Eva L. Drewes of Springfield, Massachusetts; the couple settled into a home at 4428 West Fourth Street and started a family. Their daughter Sandra Louise was just three months old on election day when Berghult upset popular incumbent Samuel Snively. Duluth’s first hometown mayor, and its youngest ever elected, Berghult served one term. He was awarded the Bronze Star during World War II and worked for NASA for more than 20 years. He died February 16, 2000.

Rudy Berghult. (Image: Duluth Public Library)