Marilyn Therese Rudy, a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet who co-founded the St. Joseph Center in Venice, has died. She was 77.

Born in Fresno on February 5th, 1932, the San Pedro resident died December 26th in Santa Monica.

After graduating from Fresno High School in 1950, Rudy attended Mount St. Mary’s College and graduated from the University of California-Berkeley with a bachelor of arts degree in political science in 1954.

Rudy, who became a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet on March 19th, 1956, received her master’s degree in government from the University of Notre Dame.

She taught high school for 25 years in Fresno and the Diocese of Los Angeles, including at St. Bernard High School in Playa del Rey.

Along with Sister Louise Bernstein, Rudy founded the St. Joseph Center social service organization in a small storefront on Rose Avenue in Venice in 1976.

The Sisters and some volunteers began their project by assisting families with the basic needs of food, clothing and job readiness. Services were offered without regard for religious affiliation, and religious instruction was neither required nor provided.

Having recognized the growing number of homeless persons who came to the area in the early 1980s, Rudy and Bernstein expanded the service into a leasing facility that eventually became the Homeless Day Center.

“Sister Marilyn lovingly sowed the seeds for the center’s beginning in 1976,” a St. Joseph Center statement said. “Since those earliest days, the center has remained committed to her ethos of caring for our community’s most vulnerable members and treating all with the utmost dignity and respect.

“St. Joseph Center is ever grateful to Sister Marilyn and the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet who from the beginning supported her efforts to care for the least fortunate among us, and who today, with so many others, continue to believe in and support the good work she began many years ago.”

After leaving St. Joseph Center in 1986, Rudy and Sister Maureen Murray worked at the Harbor Interfaith Shelter and later founded the Gathering Place Thrift Shop, whose proceeds supported a day care center for AIDS victims. Rudy and Murray also gave Earth Harmony retreats.

Rudy is survived by her brother and his wife, Richard and Adele Rudy; sister-in-law Susan Rudy; nieces Kim Andrews, Kathleen Galaktianoff and Sandra Rudy; nephews Keven, Peter, Reed and Robert Rudy; and several grand and great grand nieces and nephews. She was beloved by all who knew her.

Donations in memory of Sr. Marilyn Therese Rudy may be sent to: Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, 11999 Chalon Road, Los Angeles, CA 90049.