LaJuana Rudy, a Naples and Bay Harbor resident for several decades, died suddenly on Wednesday, Nov. 13. LaJuana, affectionately known as LJ, was the neighborhood Mom for many who grew up in the Naples and Belmont Shore communities.
She is best remembered for her laughter, smile and perpetually upbeat personality. According to her children and their families, her trademark move was a quiet whisper in a loved one’s ear telling them how much she loved them.
LaJuana Dale Mashburn was born in Compton Sept. 12, 1941, to Harry and Edna Mashburn, as the youngest of three children (brother Bud and sister Patty). She attended Compton High School, and transferred to the newly built Dominguez High where she graduated in the inaugural class.
After serving as PTA President of Naples Elementary, she began a career with the Long Beach Unified School District at Wilson High School as the clerk for the Counseling office. She later moved to the LBUSD district office, where she worked the computer-help desk.
Her son Brad Rudy, a current Wilson teacher said, “I remember Mom had a key to the case where we keep our mascot, a 10-foot-tall stuffed Alaskan Bear, known as Woody. Mom and her partner-in-crime, Counselor Marcine Landon, would open the bear case and decorate Woody for Halloween, Christmas and St. Patrick’s Day. I used to kid her that this once proud animal must feel ridiculous with a straw hat, sunglasses, and Hawaiian lei. Nowadays, no one decorates Woody — and I miss it.”
After she retired from Wilson, her best friend Suzanne Nosworthy suggested she join Assistance League. She said it was a great way to reconnect with many of her friends in education and give back to the community. She volunteered at the League’s Thrift Shop.
After surgery on her ankle, rather than take a leave, she started manning the reception desk at Assistance League’s Philanthropic Center. Executive Director Annette Kashiwabara said, “When I came in the center and saw LJ, I knew it would be a good day.”
As chairman of the Sunshine Committee, LaJuana was responsible for sending cards to members for different occasions. League members said LaJuana brought her own sunshine and warmth into the many relationships that she had with members at ALLB.
Her dedication to the students of Long Beach throughout her career was a key inspiration for daughter Heather’s decision to start the RuMBa Foundation of Long Beach, whose mission is to increase access to the arts for K-12 students in Long Beach
She is survived by the love of her life Ron, who she married in 1962. LaJuana and Ron raised three children: Brad (Angela), Geoff (Ellen), and Heather (Josephine). LaJuana and Ron grew even closer in their retirement enjoying lunches together along the coast or a football game in the Shore with friends. Her greatest joy came from her grandchildren Vivian, Reese, Abby, Kate, and Avery.
According to son Geoff, a real estate agent and investor, “My parents were married for 57 years and were devoted to creating a close family environment. My mom was always on our sides and encouraging us. Family dinners growing up, sailing to Catalina in our Catalina 27, road trips, holidays, graduations, sporting events — my parents were typically there together. It’s been neat seeing them having so much fun together recently too.”
A Celebration of Life is scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 21, for family and friends. In lieu of flowers, the family has requested that donations be sent to Assistance League of Long Beach in LaJuana’s memory. #LiveLikeLJ