ALAMEDA -- Mary Rudge, Alameda's beloved first poet laureate, died Sunday from cancer in her home with her daughter Diana Rudge by her side. She was 85.
On Saturday, Rudge participated in a celebration of poetry, art and dance entitled, "Collaboration and Inspiration," at the Alameda Historical Museum. She read her poem, "Irish Girls," with her daughter, accompanied by dance and music.
Rudge also presented her new book, "Jack London's Neighborhood, A Guide to History and Inspiration in Alameda."
Rudge was born in 1928 in Los Angeles, and grew up in Texas and Oklahoma. Even as a child, she loved art, and spent hours drawing, writing poetry and dreaming of traveling throughout the world with her poetry.
Rudge raised seven children as a single parent while overcoming tremendous obstacles in her own life. Throughout her life, she was an advocate for the homeless, artists, poets and social change.
Through her poetry, she encouraged multicultural understanding and acceptance of diversity. "We Who Are Luminous" was her signature poem, presented at the World Congress of Poets in San Francisco in 1985.
Rudge was named the poet laureate of Alameda in 2002. That same year, she began the Alameda Island Poets, a chapter of the California Federation of Chaparral Poets, Inc. She raised awareness about the importance of poetry by holding poetry contests in the high schools, and establishing poet laureates.
She encouraged youth poetry in her children's poetry contests at the Alameda Multicultural Center. And she held poetry readings at several events, including the Peanut Butter Festival on Webster Street, Art in the Park, Earth Day, cafes, and at Books Inc. on Park Street.
Rudge has 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.
Among the organizations Rudge was involved with were the Ina 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.
Rudge also was a member of the Saint Albert's Chapter of Lay Dominicans since 1962.
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.
Services for Mary Rudge will be held from 5 to 8 p.m. Tuesday at Greer Family Mortuary, 2694 Blanding Ave., AlamedaOn Wednesday, a Mass will be celebrated from 10 to 11:30 a.m. at St. Barnabas Church, 1427 6th St., Alameda. The public is invited. Interment will be at St. Dominic's Cemetery in Benicia.