In Memoriam: Dr. Irene Rudnick
The first Jewish Women in the South Carolina House of Representatives, Doctor of Education, Lawyer, wife, and mother, Dr. Irene Rudnick was a special asset to Aiken, South Carolina.
Dr. Rudnick dedicated her life to the greater good of education, legal reform and safety. To pay tribute to her time as an educator at University of South Carolina-Aiken, former students and faculty members from the business department have shared their experiences of knowing and working with Dr. Irene Rudnick.
Dr. Michael Fekula: “Okay, when I met her I called her Miss Irene back in 2004 when I first started working here. She was, of course, friendly and professional. And then I learned she was a part of the state legislature and her name is on the plaque on the outside of this building. So she was responsible for this building being built, as well as some other people. So that was fascinating to learn about. Over the years, my wife and I saw her at plays downtown so then when I came back as Dean, and she's basically working for me now. So we had interactions that were on a more professional level. And she was always incredibly conscientious about everything she did in the classroom, getting to work on time and that sort of thing. And what was amazing was her physical being, her knees started to go bad on her. So it would take her a long, long time it from the car into the building. So eventually, maybe not as quick as we should have. But eventually we got her classroom on the first floor, just to actually say, for some time getting in the building, and every time we go up and ask her, can we help you? Can we do something she'd say, No, no, I got it. She was really independent and she handled herself very well. So she just you know, was a bright spot in everything that happened around here. And we're always encouraged by her dedication and willingness to go beyond physical pain just to get in here and do the job. We knew last fall, she was getting a little slower and a little slower. And then early January, she called me with the sad news that she had to retire from teaching and just couldn't do it physically anymore. And a few weeks later, she passed away on us.”
Rachel Chris: “My favorite time with her was probably when I got the chance to bring her home. Her car had broken down but she was determined to come to class so her neighbor gave her a ride. The dean had later asked her to go to lunch and I guess forgot about her. She was sitting in a chair waiting inside the B&E side doors waiting to go to lunch. I gave her my phone if she wanted to call her neighbor, unfortunately, she didn't answer. So I told her I would bring her home and it wasn't an issue even if she thought she was being a bother. On the way to her house, she was telling me to be careful because the curves on her street can be easily lost. I got to her house and helped her out of the car was going slow so she didn't have to rush and she was telling me to hustle. I couldn't help but laugh as we walked towards her house and she kept telling me "C'mon shake a leg its cold out here" I told her to take her time. She continued by telling me how she was so glad she had students like me who are willing to help her. Probably the funniest part of this story is being told I'm the slow one and should hustle. I'm so glad to have met Mrs. Rudnick and be in her class we had so many laughs listening to her tangents and trying to figure out where she was in the lesson. As well as reminding us every morning how much she loved her Oscar Mayer sausage and cheese omelet and that where ever food is there's Irene.”
Austin Grimes: “Everyday in class she would make the entire class repeat certain words after we would say it as a class then she would say God Bless you all. She was just the sweetest lady I ever met I couldn’t understand why or who would be mad at old sweet Irene she was just wonderful and she always had a saying for everything!”
Ashley Harris: “During a couple of our class periods, she would bring in the original(s) of bills that she drafted and presented while she was a representative in the South Carolina State House. I admired how she kept such documents and how she was so enthused to share with her students. May she Rest In Peace.”
Jalen Williams: “Well let’s see she called me handsome once she yelled at me for sleeping in class and then she proceeded to ask me a question later on in class and was like oh wait never mind he’s not here today and marked me absent haha. One day she said she refuses to get an electric scooter bc the school would let her go yeah she was just amusing!”