Elizabeth Rusnak Arizmendi Obituary, Death – Elizabeth “Liz” Rusnak Arizmendi, vice president of Pasadena-based Rusnak Auto Group and a longtime philanthropist and community volunteer, was recalled as creative, committed and passionate by loved ones.
The Los Angeles native died after a lengthy bout with cancer on March 17, at age 59. Funeral services will be private, family members said.
During her treatment for ovarian cancer, she inspired women through her vibrant Instagram account, where she posted photos of her colorful toy army soldiers, whom she said helped her fight the disease from the tray next to her hospital bed. She carried the tiny figurines to her treatments, often sneaking them into the pockets of the attending doctors and nurses. The toys became known as “Liz’ soldiers.”
“Through my daughter’s philanthropic and community relations, Liz was the face of Rusnak,” said her father, Paul Rusnak, founder and owner of Rusnak Auto Group, which operates 15 auto dealerships in the area.
“Throughout her life she was competitive in everything she faced, whether it was sports, business or everyday life,” he said. “She was a beautiful soul, deeply religious, kind, caring and eager to help anyone in need. What I loved most about my daughter was her enthusiasm for life. She lived everyday to its fullest, with a true zest. As a mother to Andrew II and Isabella, she instilled the same values and spirit she exemplified.”
Calling her friend “a force of nature,” Pattie Mullins, CEO of Make-A-Wish Tri-Counties, lauded her contributions, including co-founding the popular event “Annual Ladies Night Out” which honors all women who have been touched by cancer.
“Liz’s spirit, passion, courage, strength and energy are everywhere at Ladies Night Out,” Mullins said. “She was creative, committed and passionate and liked to push the envelope for a good cause. Liz had the ability to rally those around her to support wishes and families in our community. She didn’t like the word ‘no’ and was determined to turn a ‘no’ into a ‘yes’ every time. We will miss everything about Liz including her laugh, drive, compassion, spunk and spirit.”
Rusnak created the annual Rusnak Pink Plate Campaign during the months of October to support Susan G. Komen Foundation and Pasadena Cancer Support Community Center.
She also served on the board of Pasadena’s Hillsides centers for children, young adults and families; Five Acres, an Altadena-based children’s care agency; and the Make-A-Wish Tri-Counties foundation.
Liz Rusnak graduated from Mayfield Senior School in 1981. During her time at Mayfield, she met her future husband, Andrew Arizmendi, who recalled taking her to a prom and quickly realizing he had met the woman of his dreams.
“My wife and I were like two old souls traveling this earth together,” he said, “and I know we’ll be joined together again for eternity.”
In 1985, she received a bachelor’s degree in communications and public relations from USC.
Liz Rusnak is survived by her husband, Andrew Arizmendi and her children, Andrew Arizmendi II and Isabella Arizmendi, as well as her father, Paul Rusnak and her mother, Susanne Jaffe and sister, Victoria Rusnak. She was also aunt to seven children — Gair, Natalie, Westin, Lilly, Hunter, Lauren and Megan.