Obituary of Trudy L. Walter
Trudy Walter was the type of Christian woman who did not talk about her faith, but lived it. Up until her 80’s she was an active volunteer, selfless in spending time visiting shut-ins, reading to the blind, preparing and serving meals to the homeless, providing a place at her holiday table for those without family, gathering supplies of clothes for those in need and sharing prayers graciously. She was born Gertrude (Trudy) Louise Sturges on April 27, 1929 in Glendora, CA. She was the youngest of four daughters born to David and Gertie (Bristol) Sturges, both of whom were educators. This love of children and teaching was passed on to her, as she returned to college as a mother, earning her AA degree from L.A. Valley College around the age of 40 and becoming a well-loved pre-school teacher in Granada Hills. Growing up in a small rural town at the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains instilled a life-long love of the outdoors. Her cousin M’Elise spoke of happy childhood memories hiking and roaming the hills together. Trudy spoke of great fondness about the first years of marriage when she and her husband, Jim, lived in Boulder, CO, where he completed his degree in engineering and they explored the beautiful Rocky Mountains. Family Sunday drives on sparsely driven mountain roads were a tradition that she and Jim continued into their 80’s. She met James Walter while they both attended Citrus College in Glendora. When he proposed marriage because he was moving out of state to finish his college degree, she first declined, saying she had college plans of her own. However, after spending a few weeks apart as he secured his out-of-state enrollment, Trudy changed her mind and rapidly agreed to marriage. She was fortunate to have a generous sister, Rosie, who had been spending months planning her own wedding, agree to loan her wedding gown for Trudy to wear on Aug. 31, 1948. Their honeymoon was spent on the road, pulling a small travel trailer that was to be their home for the next two years as Jim attended school. The first of Trudy’s four children (James Craig) was born in Colorado, just as her husband finished school. Jim was hired by Lockheed in Burbank, CA, so their next home was Sun Valley, where two more children (Patricia Anne and Cheryl Louise) were born. With three children just a little over three years apart, she did not find this daunting and even took on the task of babysitting neighbor’s children. It was in Sun Valley that she became an early-member of a small women’s social group known as the 4-E’s, which stayed connected for years. Outgrowing their modest two bedroom home, Trudy and Jim moved to Pacoima, where they lived for 10 years and greatly loved the close-knit neighborhood filled with young families with children. It was here that her fourth child (Susan Gwen) was born and she lovingly welcomed into the family her deceased sister’s five-year-old son (David Bristol). Being an active member of a church family was important to Trudy. As a child she was part of the Glendora Methodist Church. In Sun Valley she taught Sunday School and sang in the choir at the Sun Valley Methodist Church. With the move to Pacoima she was active in the Pacoima Congregational Church helping in the various children and youth programs, women’s groups and charitable programs benefitting less fortunate members of the community. As Trudy’s children grew into their teen years, with five growing children they once again found they had outgrown their house and moved to Northridge, where they remained for 47 years. Here they joined the First Presbyterian Church of Granada Hills and Trudy dived into numerous church activities. She again taught Sunday School and helped with Vacation Bible School, sang in the choir, participated in various women’s groups, was a founding member of a healing prayer ministry, served as a deacon, prepared and served meals for the homeless from the church’s kitchen and many other numerous activities. Her career as a pre-school teacher was a perfect fit for Trudy once her own children became teenagers. A passion which she shared with her young charges was crafting puppets and putting on puppet shows. Jim created a portable puppet stage which got many hours of use as Trudy entertained countless pre-schoolers both at the school and church. With more free time as her children became young adults, Trudy took up painting classes. Her teacher, Elaine, hosted a small weekly group that faithfully met for over 30 years. She was a prolific painter and enjoyed a variety of other arts and crafts. Trudy produced many ceramic pieces, was a beautiful seamstress and enjoyed creating mosaics. She also loved growing flowers, especially roses, which she generously cut and shared with others. It was also during her “grandmother” years that she began to volunteer with Habitat for Humanity, thrilling at pounding nails or painting, and moving on to serving lunches when she aged beyond doing the physical tasks. She volunteered with the adult group supervising and fund-raising for the local high school exchange program (American Field Service/AFS), serving as a host family when needed. A favorite volunteer opportunity she discovered was going to Sitka, AK for one week in the summer to do general maintenance and clean-up work at the Presbyterian-connected Sheldon Jackson College. She did this until her 70’s. Her children all hold very fond memories of the many travel trailer trips taken by the family. Trudy loved camping so much that during spring and summer school breaks she would ask Jim to set up the trailer at the beach or Lake Havasu, AZ for a week or two, leaving her there to manage the campsite and their brood of children while he returned to work. With her adventuresome spirit she would talk her girlfriends and sisters into joining her with their kids on these camping excursions, creating wonderful bonds with these women and among the children of these families. She couldn’t say “yes” fast enough to any invitation to travel. She and Jim criss-crossed the country several times by both car and small private plane. Into her 70’s she and Jim made several trips to New Zealand where they rented vans and camped. She had the opportunity to visit a daughter while she lived in Costa Rica and Venezuela. Another daughter took her sailing in the Virgin Islands and on a driving trip in northern Great Britain and Scotland. She and Jim went on several camping trips with the families of their grown children. The entire family of children, grandchildren and great grandchildren went together on an Alaskan cruise to celebrate Trudy and Jim’s 60th anniversary. Her son and youngest daughter took her and Jim on their final trip during their 80’s, which was a southwest driving tour. Over five years ago she and Jim moved north to live closer to their daughter Patty. Trudy and Jim were grateful to be able to live in their own home with the wonderful assistance of their caregiver Martha. Trudy’s wish to return peacefully Home to Christ in her own residence was a blessing granted on Thursday morning, July 16, 2020. Trudy is pre-deceased by her husband Jim; foster son David; sisters Frances, Bertha and Rosemary. She is survived by her children James Craig (Robin), Patricia Anne (Michael), Cheryl Louise (Dennis) and Susan Gwen (Doug); grandchildren Travis (Stephanie), Anne-Elyse (Adam), Corrie (Yingling), Walter (Christian), Jamie (Robert), Robert (Sonya/fiancee); great-grandchildren Bailey, Jonathan, Benson, Wyatt, Zachary, Chloe, Londin, Ella, Graydon, Seras, Melody, Esther. She is also survived by several nieces, nephews, great and great-great nieces and nephews and three cousins. In lieu of flowers, the family asks people to consider providing time volunteering. Or, charitable donations in Trudy’s name can be made to the Braille Institute (741 N. Vermont Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90029-3594), Habitat for Humanity International (322 W. Lamar St., Americus GA 91709-3543) or the Salvation Army USA (615 Slaters Ln, Alexandria, VA 22313).