Throughout her 60 years, Rachel Vrudny faced more than her fair share of hardship. Still, family members said, she managed to approach life with humor and strength, anchored in her Christian faith.
Vrudny, of Brainerd, died June 8 of COVID-19 pneumonia.
Vrudny was adventurous and tough despite a lifetime of health problems, said her father, Paul Vrudny. She learned at age 4 that she had Type 1 diabetes, and as an adult, she developed several disabilities.
After attending art school in California, Rachel Vrudny got married and moved to Saudi Arabia, where her husband worked as a contractor. Later, living in Ohio, Vrudny lost sight in one eye and suffered a brain aneurysm from which she fully recovered.
The couple eventually divorced, and Vrudny made a new life with their two sons: She earned a teaching degree at Concordia University in St. Paul, then taught kindergarten at Lutheran schools in Baxter, Minn., New Orleans and Peachtree City, Ga.
“She didn’t like to stay too long in one place,” said her brother the Rev. Matthew Vrudny of Walker, Minn. “She always liked to feel the sun on her face.”
Vrudny formed a community of friends wherever she went and made sacrifices for her boys, family members said.
“Her salary wasn’t good, but she still managed to raise two kids and give us everything that we wanted,” her son Jeremiah Vrudny said.
After moving back to Minnesota, Rachel suffered a stroke in 2011 that left her paralyzed on her left side and affected her speech, but not her thinking, family said. She lived with her parents for a while, then in assisted-living homes. She suffered a heart attack, a broken femur and other ailments, but kept working in therapies such as swimming and even wrote two books, typing with one hand.
“She always made the most of what she had left,” her brother said.
She didn’t mince words, her family said, but maintained optimism and humor: Vrudny had a glass eye, and when a new assistant started at her optometrist’s office, for instance, she closed her real eye, recited a chart of letters she had memorized, then waited to see the look on the assistant’s face.
“Her sense of humor was probably one of her best qualities,” her son said. “You can’t have a conversation without her cracking several jokes.”
Rachel is survived by sons Jeremiah and Joshua, both of Georgia; parents Paul and Myra Vrudny of Brainerd; four siblings and many nieces and nephews. Services have been held.
Pam Louwagie • 612-673-7102