Mattie Pius Rudinow – beloved wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, teacher, gardener, peace and human rights activist – died at her home in Sonoma on April 7, 2014, of heart failure. She was 91.
Born in Fresno in 1922, Mattie grew up in Los Angeles where her parents, Polish immigrants, ran a paint store and painting/decorating service (from houses to gold leaf at Grauman’s Chinese Theater). A graduate of LA High, Mattie studied architecture at UCLA and UC Berkeley, where she met her husband-to-be, Jack, suspending her studies to work in the art department of the Kaiser shipyards in Richmond during the second world war.
Following World War II, Jack and Mattie bought a farm on Petaluma Hill Road where they kept 7,000 chickens, a flock of sheep, maintained an orchard of fruit trees, and a large garden and raised three children. In time, Mattie returned to her studies, earning a BA, a teaching credential, and an MA as a literacy specialist, from Sonoma State University, where she was valedictorian of the first graduating class.
In the 1970s and ’80s she taught at Mark West and San Miguel Elementary Schools in Santa Rosa, and Harmony Elementary School in Occidental. Her enlightened approach to her profession is reflected in this one of her maxims: “Never tell a child who has finally mastered a skill after much struggle, ‘See? That was easy!’ Rather, say, ‘See? That was hard, but you did it!’.”
Together with her husband, Jack, Mattie was a life-long activist for peace, justice and human rights. The couple were charter members of local chapters of both the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and were honored for their work by the ACLU with a Jack Green Civil Liberties Award and by the Peace & Justice Center of Sonoma County as Peacemakers of the Year.
Mattie was also devoted to photography, to maintaining the oral history of her family and community, to literature (active for many years in Sonoma State University Friends of the Library, she was an avid reader and a member of a writers’ circle), to music (with particular affinities for orchestral and chamber music and world folk music), to cooking (her pies and preserves were legendary), and to her garden, which was always a marvel of natural beauty and productivity. She was actively and joyfully engaged in all of these pursuits until her very last day.
Mattie is survived by a son, Joel Rudinow (Sonoma); two daughters, Ann Rudinow Saetnan (Trondheim, Norway), and Dita Rudinow (Seattle, Wash.); three grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.
A memorial service and celebration of Mattie’s life is scheduled at Congregation Ner Shalom, 85 La Plaza, Cotati, at 2 p.m., Saturday, June 7, 2014.
Donations in Mattie’s name may be made to: The Peace and Justice Center of Sonoma County, 467 Sebastopol Ave., Santa Rosa, CA 95401; or The Jack & Mattie P. Rudinow Peace Scholarship Fund, Santa Rosa Junior College Foundation, 1501 Mendocino Ave., Santa Rosa, CA 95401.