Rudy Cypser, one of the elders of AVP, passed away on February 16 after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease. Rudy was 94 years old and had been married to his wife, Betty for nearly 70 years.
After taking the AVP training in 1984, Rudy and Betty became key leaders in Westchester. They faithfully coordinated the workshops every month at for the women at Taconic Prison for more than twenty years. They also led workshops for women at Danbury Federal Prison.
The women absolutely loved them. They had a unique approach to Transforming Power. Rudy’s talk on “How Wonderful You Are” was truly transformative and Betty’s exercise on “Transforming Ourselves” focused on personal transformation and was inspired by the Buddhist Eightfold Path.
Rudy was also an important leader in AVP New York where he was clerk of the AVP New York Statewide Council in the late 1980s and early 1990s. He led the organization through many crucial decisions concerning the future of AVP.
In 1990 Rudy helped to organize the first AVP National Gatheringin Ossining, NY. He helped to bring together sixty-five AVP facilitators from the United States and half a dozen other countries. And at this conference the group decided to form AVP-USA. In 2000, Rudy also helped to organize the AVP-USA Conference in Garrison, NY where we celebrated the 25th anniversary of AVP.
Rudy and Betty were both authors and published many books. Among the books that Rudy published was Larry Apsey’s autobiography, “Following the Light to Peace.”
Before Rudy was involved in AVP, he was an engineer with a long career IBM. He and Betty had raised a large family in Katonah, NY. They might be described as radical Catholics. They studied the writings of Tiehard de Chardin and were Maryknoll Associates. As you may know, Maryknoll was the home of liberation theology.
Rudy also worked tirelessly to introduce restorative justice practices and fought for prison reform. For many years he led the CURE program in New York and lobbied in Albany for many prison reform bills.
We will miss Rudy.
–Faithful Fred Feucht
Rudy was a tireless advocate for us, for the thousand of prisoners in his workshops, for the limitless reach of transforming through every person he met. As a novice I always knew he was on my team no matter what I might not yet have learned as a facilitator in prison or community settings. His knowledge was encyclopedic only matched in intensity by his energy and devotion.
Rudy was always available for questions or a consultand relished those opportunities it seemed. Whatever the concern might be, he was eager to be in conversation about AVP and prison reform.
Mind you Betty was always involved as his faithful teammate. Hooray Betty…
–Thoughtful Tom Martin
I met Royal Rudy and Beautiful Betty Cypser at my first AVP Basic workshop at Wellesley Friends Meeting House in the late ’80’s. I left feeling blown away by their competence and the strength of the workshop. Their caring and respect for one another was obvious. In retrospect, I understood that it was a difficult workshop to facilitate. There was a very disruptive participant and there were several logistical difficulties which they handled with aplomb. Later I did some work with Rudy on the New York Statewide council and always was impressed with his intelligence and kindness.
–Amazing Grace McGrath