Whoops sorry I misread your post about the rye starter. Yes, I would think that would only take 1-2 days max. I would start with 1 cup of active starter and then just add in 2 Tbs of rye flour and water, and repeat until active.
Yes some sources say use 1 cup of flour and discard half. Maybe that's the proper way of doing things but I have never been into wasting stuff even if it's cheap. I do things my own way and sometimes get slack for it but if it works it works.
I usually just add about 1-2 Tbs of flour and eyeball a bit of water. Stir it up. If it's a bit dry add a bit more water in it. I don't dump out any of the starter unless I've got a jar full and it's not active yet, but this rarely is the case.
For a new starter, I usually feed it twice a day. Once it starts to get more active, I'll feed it every 4 hours and then when it rises about a couple inches after a feeding within 2 hours it's active.
To use it, I take it out and stir in a Tbs of flour and water and let it sit for a few hours. Once it's semi active I'll use it. I think the norm is to let it get fullly active before using.
Here's why I think your starter died. Read reply 8-10http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,10753.0.html