Fyrne Hope Willems Rudorf
Fyrne Hope Willems Rudorf
Sept. 2, 1923-Jan. 23, 2013
Born in Reedley, to Abraham and Mathilda Willems, Fyrne grew up in Reedly, Placerville and mostly Fresno in the company of a large and loving extended family. She and her brothers enjoyed summers at their grandparents’ ranch sorting peaches, swimming in the irrigation ditch and eating homemade ice cream. From the time she was 8-years-old, Fyrne played the piano for services at the church her father founded, fostering a lifelong love of music.
She attended Westmont College in Los Angeles and graduated from Fresno State in 1946 with a BA in French and a minor in music.
Her career path was mostly involved with secretarial work, typing and editing jobs. But there was also a brief stint as a restaurateur when she was the co-owner of The Skylight Bistro in Lincoln, Neb., which proved to be one of the more enjoyable and memorable times in her life.
Married to her soul mate, Hugh Rudorf, for 55 years, they were a team who fiercely loved their children, had a knack for gathering people together in new communities wherever they lived, generously and continually opened their home and their hearts to many, enjoyed shared passions for music, theater and the arts, traveled and explored whenever and wherever they could – always targeting experiences over things. Together they lived and worked and played and touched lives from Fresno to the Stanford campus to Chicago to Delaware, Nebraska, New York and, finally, Sonoma.
Fyrne volunteered her time, talents and energies throughout her life with organizations such as Meals on Wheels. After retiring, she continued in this vein by volunteering at La Luz in Sonoma for 10 years, and several more years at the First Congregational Church. She was especially proud of her efforts there, particularly organizing the Lay Care Team, serving on the Outreach Committee, originating the Seder in their home which led to the formation of Congregation Shir Shalom and helping lead the committee to write the Open and Affirming Statement to ensure that all would be welcomed at the church.
Fyrne was gracious, humane, funny, smart and always curious.
Generous of spirit? Most certainly. Independent and stubborn? Absolutely. Loving daughter, sister, mother, grandmother, wife and friend? Undeniably.
Fyrne navigated the last chapter of her life with great honesty and left us with the final gift of showing how to leave this world with grace and dignity.
She is predeceased by her brother, Nolan Willems; husband, Hugh Rudorf; and son, Don Rudorf. She is survived by many who will continue to feel her spirit within them, including her son, Bob Rudorf and wife, Amelia Belle, of Sonoma; daughter, Anne Rudorf, and husband, Eric Nelson of Pacifica; brother, Franklin Willems and wife, Betty, of Fresno; grandson, Alex Rudorf, of San Francisco; granddaughter, Annie Rudorf, of Sonoma; granddaughter, Jenny Spicka, of Lincoln; and granddaughter, Hope Nelson, of Pacifica.
Many thanks to the staff of Sonoma Hills who helped make the last seven years of Fyrne’s life so comfortable and filled with the sense of family.
Donations in Fyrne’s memory may be made to La Luz Center, 17560 Greger St., Sonoma, CA 95476.
A celebration of Fyrne’s life will be held on Saturday, Feb. 23, at 2 p.m. in Burlingame Hall, First Congregational Church of Sonoma, 252 W. Spain St., Sonoma.