Mary Rudge, Alameda first poet laureate, died Sunday, Jan. 19 from cancer in her home with her daughter. Rudge was 85.
She participated the day before she died in a celebration of poetry, art and dance, “Collaboration and Inspiration,” at the Alameda Historical Museum. She read her poem, “Irish Girls,” with her daughter Diana.
Rudge presented her new book, “Jack London’s Neighborhood, A Guide to History and Inspiration in Alameda.”
Born in 1928 in Los Angeles, she grew up in Texas and Oklahoma. Even as a child Rudge raised seven children as a single paren. throughout her life, she was an advocate for the homeless, artists, poets and social change.
In her poetry she encouraged multicultural understanding and acceptance of diversity. She was named the poet laureate of Alameda in 2002. Working to raise awareness about the importance of poetry, she held poetry contests in the high schools, and establishing poet laureates.
Rudge published more than 20 books of poetry, and many of her poems have been translated into other languages.
“Mary traveled the world with Richard (Angilly) and I, spreading her message of art and peace everywhere she went and to everyone she met,” said Natica Angilly of Artists Embassy International, referring to her husband and Rudge.
On May 11, 2013, the City of Berkeley honored Mary Rudge with a lifetime achievement award at the Berkeley Poetry Festival.
Rudge worked with many organizations, including the Coolbrith Circle; Bay Area Poets Coalition; United Poets Laureates International; Jack London Society; Association of California Poet Laureates; PEN Oakland; California Federation of Chaparral Poets, Inc.; Dancing Poetry Festival; and Poets in the Schools.
She is survived by five children, Robin Davidson, Mary Star Rudge, Alice Mobarry, Glen Rudge and Diana Rudge; and many grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She was predeceased by a son, Louis Jordan Rudge, and a daughter, Caroline Rudge.