Obituary of Irene Rudnick
“A word fittingly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.” Proverbs 25:11
Irene Krugman Rudnick, of Aiken, South Carolina, died on February 2, 2019. Born in Columbia in 1929, Irene was the eldest child of Jean (Getter) & Jack Krugman. She was married to the late Harold Alan Rudnick of Aiken.
Irene was a graduate of Columbia High School where she was valedictorian. She earned her bachelor’s degree cum laude from the University of South Carolina, where she was active in theatrical productions, president of Alpha Kappa Gamma women’s leadership society, president of Hypation Literary Society, YWCA Cabinet, Hillel, president of Pi Kappa Delta, manager of the debate team, winner of the Hemphill Award for Oratory, member of Alpha Psi Omega, and Secretary of the International Relations Club. She then attended the University of South Carolina School of Law, where she was one of the few women attending law school at the time. While in law school, Irene was a member of the Honor Council, chairwoman of the program committee of the law federation, and a member of the editorial staff of the South Carolina Law Quarterly. After graduating law school, Irene opened her law practice and soon moved to Aiken after marrying Harold. She practiced law and had two children.
As a life member of the American Association of University Women, Irene once served as president where she became involved in a community campaign to offer more educational opportunities for area youth. She helped organize fundraising receptions, letter writing campaigns, and other efforts to increase awareness for the creation of USC Aiken. Once USC Aiken became a reality, she began teaching there in 1961 and after 50 years, she was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Education. Irene taught legal classes at USC Aiken for 57 years until December 2018. She relished being a teacher and a lawyer and enjoyed instilling in her students a desire to learn about the law and succeed in life. For a period of time, she also taught at Warrenville Elementary while simultaneously practicing law. In 1983, her son Morris began practicing law with her, and they practiced law together until only a few weeks ago.
Irene was a trailblazer for women when entering politics was difficult for them. She began her political career as Superintendent of Education for Aiken County. In 1972, she was elected to the S.C. House of Representatives from District 81 in Aiken where she served for 14 years. Irene prided herself on working tirelessly on behalf of her constituents and always made herself “available, accountable, and responsive” to their needs. As an elected public official, she always considered herself a servant of the people. Nothing they requested was too small for her attention. A champion for her community, Irene’s office was in her husband’s furniture store where a large sign read, “Welcome, Come On In.” Devoted and determined, Irene fought for many issues including educational and legal reform, lower utility rates, the environment, and highway safety.
She was a steadfast advocate for what is right and just and received numerous awards and accolades for her professional and philanthropic efforts. Some of them included being named the Citizen of the Year for Aiken County, the S.C. Woman of Achievement Legislative Award, and the Aiken County Chamber of Commerce Woman of the Year. She also received awards for her legislation helping disabled veterans, the handicapped, and those with developmental disabilities. Irene received the Friend of Education Award, an award from the National Order of Women Legislators, and she was a finalist for the John F. Kennedy Profiles in Courage Award. She was a member of the American Legion Auxiliary, the Order of the Eastern Star, and Alpha Delta Kappa, an International Honorary Organization for Women Educators.
Passionate about her religion, she served as President of Adas Yeshurun Synagogue for decades and also served as President of the Hadassah Sisterhood. Irene was a bitzuist, a doer: sweeping the synagogue’s steps, polishing its silver, cooking and cleaning for events, and hosting community and interfaith groups. She taught Sunday School starting as a teenager and continuing until late in life.
Irenic means tending to promote peace or reconciliation which aptly describes Irene. She fully embraced life and is remembered for her infinite capacity to love, to share, to support, and to show unlimited acceptance and compassion. Without second thought, Irene put anyone ahead of herself. She valued beyond all things her close relationships with family and friends. Irene had a genuine interest in others and never met a stranger. With her trademark enthusiasm, she brought a constant smile and a sense of humor to any event or situation.
She is survived by her son, Morris (Veleta) Rudnick, daughter Helen (Mark) Rapoport; grandchildren Charles (Catherine) Rudnick, Laura Jean Rudnick (fiancé, Brandon Jones), Kathleen (Jeff) Tokar; Whitney (Daniel) Weingarten, Jared Rapoport, and Joshua Rapoport; great-grandchildren Michael and Ashley Craven, and Winthrop Rudnick. She is also survived by her brother, Stanley Krugman and is predeceased by her sister, Dorothy Goldstein. Irene is also survived by nieces and nephews.
Those wishing to donate in her memory may contribute to the charity of their choice. Graveside services will be held on Tuesday, February 5 at 11 a.m. at the Sons of Israel Cemetery behind Bethany Cemetery at the corner of Hampton Avenue and Laurens Street in Aiken.
“All that I am or ever hope to be I owe to my angel mother.” Abraham Lincoln
The Historic George Funeral Home, 211 Park Ave., SW, Aiken, SC 29801(803.649.6234).
211 Park Avenue, SW
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