West Seattle philanthropist Adah Rhodes Cruzen dies at age 96

Just before the pandemic, in January 2020, friends and family threw a 95th-birthday party for Adah Rhodes Cruzen.

(January 2020 photo by Clay Eals)

She made it to 96 this past winter, but it wasn’t much of a time for parties. And now Ms. Cruzen is gone. Family and friends have been notified that she died today.

In her final years, Ms. Cruzen drew considerable local admiration for her generous support of local organizations and projects – perhaps most notably, the campaign to restore the murals created ~30 years ago in a civic project headed by her husband Earl Cruzen (who also made it to age 96 before dying four years ago).

(Earl and Adah Cruzen, 2013 photo by Clay Eals)

“He left me a bunch of zeroes,” she joked in 2018. And she made good use of them. Her donation that year kickstarted the project to restore and repair the murals. Also in 2018, she made news with gifts to the Senior Center of West Seattle and to the Southwest Seattle Historical Society, along with funding a new “Welcome to West Seattle” sign at the southwest end of the West Seattle Bridge.

In 2019, the West Seattle Chamber of Commerce honored her with the Westsider of the Year award. Longtime friend Clay Eals shared with us the script from that presentation, which noted that Ms. Cruzen had been a West Seattleite since she and first husband Bob moved here in the 1950s. After his death, she met second husband Willard Rhodes at Fauntleroy Church, and became friends with Earl’s then-wife Virginia Cruzen. Years aFter their respective spouses died, Adah and Earl married on his 80th birthday in 2000. After his death in 2017, she decided to carry out his wishes to continue to support their community, to which she shared Earl’s devotion. Eals recalls.a plaque that hung in Ms. Cruzen’s kitchen when she and Mr. Cruzen lived in a condo at Duwamish Head: “I wasn’t born in West Seattle, but I got here as fast as I could.”

Arrangements are being made through Evergreen-Washelli; we’ll let you know when there’s word of memorial plans.

11 Replies to "West Seattle philanthropist Adah Rhodes Cruzen dies at age 96"

  • Jenben June 7, 2021 (7:38 pm)

    Rip to a class act! 

  • Lauren B June 7, 2021 (8:05 pm)

    I was fortunate to meet Adah a number of times.  She was a wonderful person and gave so much to our community.  She will be missed!

  • Fran June 7, 2021 (8:09 pm)

    She had a delightful sense of humor, too. What a great asset to West Seattle!

  • LAintheJunction June 7, 2021 (8:33 pm)

    Adah and Earl were true West Seattle treasures. They gave so much of themselves – to their community, church, and to the future. Thank you Adah – may you find peace and joy in the journey beyond.

  • Rusty June 7, 2021 (10:17 pm)

    I had the pleasure of meeting and sitting next to Mrs. Cruzen at an event once. A completely delightful, wonderful woman who gave back to the community generously, she will be missed.

  • Lola June 8, 2021 (10:18 am)

    What a wonderful legacy she has left.  Her memory will live on in the Mural’s around West Seattle. Thank you. 

  • Michelle Bass June 8, 2021 (3:10 pm)

    Adah’s Aegis Living West Seattle family feels the loss of her presence today. She was kind, funny and one of the most caring human beings in the world. It was our honor to care, love and nurture her during her transition as she taught us what a true class act was. We will miss her every second, minute, hour, and days. God Bless you Adah! Love, Your Aegis Living Family

  • Kathy June 8, 2021 (4:13 pm)

    Adah was also a major benefactor to the Southwest Seattle Historical Society.  We are deeply grateful for her interest, enthusiasm and support which has allowed us to expand our programming and tell more of the stories of this wonderful community.  Thank you, Adah.  You will be missed.

  • alkiannie June 8, 2021 (10:28 pm)

    I met Adah a couple of times – always in a situation where she was giving back to the community. Glad I had a chance to tell her ‘thank you’ in person.   Rest in peace, bright star!

  • Lois Elenich June 10, 2021 (6:33 pm)

    I used to meet Adah every Wednesday at the Senior Center for lunch.  We would stay & listen to The Ukulele & Sing-Along group.  We immediately became close friends.A few years ago Adah got tickets from some young friends to a show.  When we arrived, we realized we were not the target audience – we were quite a bit older than anyone else.   At the time, Adah was in a wheelchair & there was no elevator access to our seats.  A group of young people came to our rescue.  They checked her chair at coat check, & helped us to our seats.  (Turns out we were in the wrong seats.  They helped us again to our true seats.  And after the show, out to the car.)  As the show started, we then realized the entertainer was a ribald comedian.  (Sorry, I forgot your name.)  Although a lot of the jokes went over our heads, we had a wonderful, funny, time of it.  As we were leaving, Adah’s driver, Alfredo, noticed the comedian in the lobby.  “There he is,” he said.  I bum rushed him, with Adah right behind me.  We introduced ourselves.  Then off we went.This is one of the fondest memories of my life!  I have many loving memories of Adah. RIP. 
    Love you, miss you.Love, Lois Elenich, 93 years young.

  • Cathy S. June 13, 2021 (3:16 pm)

    RIP sweet Adah.  Adah was West Seattle’s guardian angel.  I was honored to sit behind her in church each Sunday (pre-Covid).  She was always quick with a smile, a generous greeting and a twinkle in her eye.  She will be dearly missed.

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