March 8, 2021

Death of Rudolph Frederick “Rudi” Besier, 91, of Old Lyme Announced, “a Dedicated Supporter of Old Lyme and its Environment”

Rudolph Frederick “Rudi” Besier, Capt., CEC, USNR (Ret.)

OLD LYME — Rudolph Frederick “Rudi” Besier, Capt., CEC, USNR (Ret.), 91, of Old Lyme and Man-o-War Cay, Abaco, Bahamas, passed away peacefully at home Jan. 25, 2021. Rudi was born Oct. 6, 1929, in The Bronx, N.Y., Rudi was the only son of August Karl Besier and Elizabeth (Schall) Besier. His family’s roots were in the Rheinpfalz, and Rudi always loved good German food and wine.

He attended New York public schools, played stick ball in the streets and blithely rode the subways around Manhattan at a very early age. He graduated from George Washington University in 1950, with a degree in civil engineering. His first job was with John G. Loehler, an engineering firm around the corner from the White House. Rudi remembered tipping his hat to President Harry S. Truman, who, accompanied by a single secret service agent, passed by every morning as Rudi walked to work.

Rudi entered the U.S. Navy in 1953. Upon completing OCS, he joined the U.S. Naval Construction Battalions (Seabees). His first tour of duty was NAS Port Lyautey, French Morocco where he led a team laying out airfields and served as legal officer. NS Guantanamo Bay, Cuba followed. His final active duty tour was NAS Point Mugu, Calif. where he was Seabee officer in charge of construction. In the U.S. Naval Reserve, his assignments sent him to Gulfport, Miss., to the Indian Reservations of Ariz. and to Davisville, R.I. When Rudi retired in 1979, with the rank of captain, he was CO of the Seventh Reserve Naval Construction Regiment.

Rudi was a talented engineer with good business sense. In 1956, he moved to the Denver, Colo. to join the innovative engineering firm of Ketchum, Konkel, & Hasting (now Martin/Martin, Inc.). In 1961, he and the firm’s founder, Milo Ketchum, opened an east coast office in Old Saybrook. Rudi bought the practice in 1965. Kenneth Gibble, who had joined the firm in 1964, became a partner in 1972, and together they built a thriving structual engineering business. They consulted on award-winning projects with many prominent architects of the day, including Paul Rudolph, John Johansen, Eliot Noyes, Kevin Roche, Hugh Hardy and Charles W. Moore. They took great pride in offering innovative engineering solutions to complex structural problems. Rudi retired in 1994. The firm carries on today as GNCB Consulting Engineers, PC.

Rudi was a dedicated supporter of Old Lyme and its environment. He served for 35 years as Old Lyme’s representative to the Connecticut River Gateway Commission and served on the board of the Connecticut River Salmon Association. He chaired the Old Lyme Library building renovations committee and was a member of the Lyme/Old Lyme Schools building renovations committee and of the building and grounds committee for the Florence Griswold Museum. For nearly 20 years, he was the reluctant but cheerful “Captain” of the Art Department in the FCCOL’s annual White Elephant Sale, almost enjoying it. He was a longtime member of the Old Lyme Beach Club.

Rudi was a keen observer of human nature. He was often quiet, but listened carefully. He was a man of few words, but when he spoke people listened. He had a subtle wit, great insight and was above all kind. He enjoyed cooking and grew grapes for wine for a time in his back field. He loved hunting and fishing and taught his grandchildren to fly fish. Rudi loved his family. Family gatherings were important and he enjoyed every moment of every one. He remembered every birthday. He took great pride in his children and grandchildren and touted their accomplishments to all.

Rudi will be greatly missed by his devoted wife of 40 years, Mary Ann (Rumney) Besier, and his family including his three children with his first wife, Ruth: Rev. Bettine Besier and husband James of Quaker Hill, Christine Besier and husband Jeffrey of East Haddam and Kurt Besier and wife Pamela of Old Lyme. He also leaves behind ten grandchildren: Barrett (LiMei), Marina (Jacob), Genevieve (Nate), Lyman, Jordan (Michelle), Alexandra, Morgan (Harrison), Hunter, Kaitlin (Cullen) and Timothy (Lisa); and five great-grandchildren. Also left to mourn his loss are his brother-in-law George R. Rumney and wife Renee of Annapolis, Md.; his sister-in-law Susan Rumney Barney of Bloomfield, Ct.; his niece Amanda Barney Gregory and husband Adam of Creedmoor, Texas; his nephew Austin Barney of Hudson, N.Y.; his grandnephew James Dunham Gregory; and grandniece Beatrice Mason Barney. He will also be missed by his relatives in the Rheinpfalz; his helper and friend Mary Margaret Feeney; his friends of more than 30 years on Man-o-War Cay in the Abacos; and his Scrabble buddies.

Burial will be private at Duck River Cemetery, Old Lyme. A celebration of Rudi’s life will be held on a warm sunny afternoon later this year. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations in Rudolph’s memory be made to the Old Lyme Land Trust or his daughter’s church, St. Thomas Episcopal in Alton, R.I. To leave online condolences, please visit

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