Tenino community leader Robin Rudy dies

Pete Caster / pcaster@chronline.

Tenino is mourning the loss of community leader Robin Rudy, who died Wednesday at age 79 after suffering a recent heart attack.

Rudy was director of the Tenino Food Bank Plus for more than three decades and was known as “the matriarch of social services” in the area, according to a statement issued by Mayor Wayne Fournier.

“Rudy was a great friend and advocate for several decades to children and families of South Thurston County as a school employee, food bank director and Winterfest organizer,” according to the statement. “She was known for her sharp wit, fearlessness and tough-love attitude. She was an ironclad Mother Teresa with well-worn armor that covered a huge heart.”

Rudy was a Yakima native who spent most of her life in Thurston County. Those who knew Rudy described her lifelong passion for helping as many children as possible in Tenino’s schools, whether with a backpack or a meal or a Christmas gift.

Pat Haller, who co-founded the food bank 32 years ago with Rudy, said the motivation for starting the food bank came from Rudy’s observations as a school bus driver.

“She saw a lot of these children getting on the bus without breakfast or anything to eat,” Haller said. “She knew there was a need.”

A memorial service is tentatively set for March 18 at Tenino High School. A time will be announced at a later date.

How to help

To donate to the Tenino Food Bank Plus, call 360-264-5505 or drop off donations at 224 Sussex Ave. E. Donations can be mailed to P.O. Box 1239, Tenino, WA 98589.