Donna Lee Rudolph

Donna Lee Rudolph left the world on Jan. 6, 2023, and is now fishing forever off the shores of the North Fork. 

Donna was born in Bay Shore on June 8, 1955, to Fred and Nancy (Stein) Rudolph. Raised in New Suffolk and Mattituck, she graduated from Mattituck High School in 1973. She lettered in softball and was fondly known as “Rudy” by her many friends and family. After graduating, Donna attended Salem College and SUNY/Plattsburg. Her interests led her to travel, and she spent time in Arizona and Florida before returning to her hometown.

Donna joined the wine industry as it blossomed on the North Fork, starting her career at Ressler Vineyards. She honed her skills at Bedell Cellars and eventually became the vineyard manager, one of a few women in the wine industry to hold that position. In 2020 she was chosen by the New York Wine and Grape Foundation as Grape Grower of the Year, acknowledging her extraordinary contributions to the profession. She loved her work and produced many years of exceptional harvests. After leaving Bedell, Donna worked at Southold Fish Market, where she was a beloved member of the crew.

When Donna wasn’t working, she could be found fishing on one of the local party boats, catching the limit when no one else was getting a bite. She often won the pool and was regarded as the “fish whisperer.” 

Donna was predeceased by her parents and is survived by her siblings, Scott Rudolph, Jill Gwydir and her husband, John Govel, and Patty Johnson; and her seven nieces and nephews, Zack, John, Jade, Abbey, Matt, Nick and Holly, who adored their aunt. Donna also leaves behind her Lab, River, the third of her pups, and will be remembered with love by the dog park crew, her Bedell family and many friends.

Gifts in memory of Donna can be made to North Fork Animal Welfare League. A celebration of her life is planned for the spring.

This is a paid notice.