Jolene "Jody" Dolores Ruso

January 15, 1932 ~ November 3, 2019 (age 87)


Jody passed away after a sudden illness at the age of 87 at her home and on her own terms on November 3, 2019 surrounded by family.  Jody, affectionately known as Jojo was born on January 15, 1932 in Chicago, Illinois to Gene and Joanne Bartlett.  As the only child she was doted on by her father. Her mother made sure that she was given every opportunity and insisted that she take piano, dance and elocution lessons.  But Jody was a free spirit and not interested in those things and just wanted to be on the playground with her friends.  Her father worked for Montgomery Ward and was in charge of opening new stores so the family was constantly on the move.  They tired of moving and finally settled in Watsonville at the start of Jody’s sophomore year of high school. It was then that her father opened Gene Bartlett’s Women’s Apparel.  As a result Jody was always dressed to the nines.  She was painfully shy during her early years but came into her own when she attended San Jose State and became an Alpha Phi. While attending San Jose State she met the love her life, Fran Ruso, who was attending Santa Clara University.  She graduated with a BS in Business Administration from San Jose State and was soon married on August 23, 1953 and moved into a new home on Virginia Street where so many memories were made.  Longing for a sibling when she grew up, she made sure that that didn’t happen to her kids, so she had six.  The family house on Virginia Street was where all the neighborhood kids gathered and Jody loved every minute of it.  Later in life she often said that Virginia Street was not the same and that she missed the days when there were 28 kids on the street.

Jody was a strong woman who was widowed when she was 42 years old when her oldest was just 19. Out of necessity she went to work as a bookkeeper for many non-profits and agricultural companies.  She was fun loving and enjoyed playing cards. Her sports teams were the 49ers and the San Francisco Giants, which she continually cheered on even recently watching the World Series just to see who won.  Jody loved to gamble even going to the Kentucky Derby and loved all sports.  She was proud of her kids, but she really came into her own when she became a grandmother.  Jojo loved the grandkids and was their biggest fan, attending every sporting event that they participated in and unlike some, understood all the rules of the games.  She was the fun grandma that taught them to play liar’s dice and poker.  Her friends were her savior and she had many.  Her bridge clubs, book club and pedro were something that gave her joy.  Jody will be remembered for her smile and her infectious laugh and ability to take on life’s challenges with grace, dignity and humor.  Jody taught her family many life lessons, especially at the end.

Jody is survived by her children Kerry Stringari (Steve), Susan Rodriguez (Frank), Jennifer Scurich (Mike) & John, daughter-in law Saundra Ruso; grandchildren Josh & Nico Stringari, Casey, Luke & Zach Scurich, Matthew & Kellie Rodriguez,  John  & Samantha Ruso, and Mikey Ruso  She was preceded in death by her husband Francis J Ruso and her two sons Mark & Mike Ruso.

In lieu of flowers the family wishes donations to be made to the charity of their choice.

In honor of Jody, please raise a glass, have a laugh and enjoy your family. She would want that.

Services will be held at Valley Catholic Church, Monday November 18th at 10:00 AM.  Mehl’s Colonial Chapel is entrusted with funeral arrangements.



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Funeral Mass
November 18, 2019

10:00 AM
Valley Catholic Church
2401 East Lake Avenue
Watsonville, CA 95076

Private Committal

Valley Catholic Cemetery
2441 East Lake Ave.
Watsonville, CA 95076

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