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Chef embraced work, hobbies with intensity

| Thursday, July 10, 2014, 11:21 p.m.
RIchard Michael Dudas black and white obit photo

Richard Dudas learned to cook as a child, cracking breakfast eggs over a campfire with his father at the family's cabin in Somerset County.

He later graduated from Westmoreland County Community College's culinary arts program.

When he won a scholarship to École de Cuisine La Varenne in Paris, one of the first cooking schools in France to offer accredited, professional culinary degrees, Julia Child presented Mr. Dudas with his award.

Richard Michael Dudas II of Monessen died on Friday, June 20, 2014, of a heart attack. He was 54.

While cooking in a restaurant part time and attending California University of Pennsylvania, he learned from a cousin about an opening at the National Democratic Club in Washington.

His career as a chef had begun, said his mother, Donna Stofka Dudas of Monessen.

Mr. Dudas later worked for the University of Pittsburgh.

Ricky Dudas, 18, recalled his father's adventurous side.

An ice sculptor and former ski instructor, Mr. Dudas taught his son to rock climb.

“The first time we ever went, I was 8 years old. He told me to climb halfway and let go,” Ricky Dudas said. The 50-foot drop, and the climbing gear that held him, taught him not to be afraid.

He was a beneficiary of his dad's cooking skills.

“Even when we were at home, he would always add a little ‘pizzazz,' ” Ricky Dudas said.

“He used to say, ‘What I love, I do, and what I do, I love. Why else would anyone work 10 to 12 hours a day?' ” Mr. Dudas' mother said.

Mr. Dudas was a 1978 graduate of Mon Valley Catholic High School who earned a bachelor's degree from California University of Pennsylvania. He was a member of the former Most Holy Name of Jesus Roman Catholic Church.

He was preceded in death by his wife, Debra Dudas.

In addition to his mother and his son, Richard Dudas III, he is survived by his father, Richard M. Dudas of Monessen; and his sister, Amy Hilliard of Hermitage.

A funeral Mass will be held at 9:30 a.m. Saturday in Epiphany of Our Lord Roman Catholic Church, 618 Knox Ave., Monessen. Interment will follow in Holy Name Cemetery.

Robert A. Billick Funeral Home, Monessen, is handling arrangements.

Mary Pickels is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-5401 or mpickels@tribweb.com.

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