Joan is all about Allentown; it’s in her DNA. Her parents, Mary and Hal Runner, moved to Lakeview Drive before she was born in 1953. Many will remember Mrs. Runner as a beloved teacher in town, and Hal as a longtime Allentown Lion and Borough Council member.
Joan and her husband John moved back to the house on Lakeview in 1980 after her mother died in order to care for her dad. They never left, raising their three children here, all of whom are Allentown High graduates. Jake is a history professor at Wake Forest University, Jillian is an HR executive with Enterprise Corporation, and Jayne — after a decade of teaching - is now home-schooling her two young children.
Joan and John are also AHS grads. Joan was an English major, graduating from Douglas, Rutgers U. Within a year, she returned to the Graduate School of Education for a Reading Specialist degree. Years later, when Jake was entering college and the girls were middle and high schoolers, Joan began a doctoral program at Teachers College, Columbia. Her dissertation was a focus on her middle school teaching and life-long interest in reading engagement.
Dr. Ruddiman retired from West Windsor-Plainsboro schools in 2015. Being “Noanie” to her five grandchildren in three different states, is a top priority. But she is far from “retired” as she continues to support educational programs in the state through NJ History Day and the NJ Historical Commission. Within a month, her first children’s book will be published, which is the beginning of a whole new adventure.
Within the Ruddiman family is another beloved member. The Allentown Public Library has been at the center of Joan’s life since she was a child. When John and she moved to town, she became an Allentown Public Library Association Board member, and John took on accounting tasks.
“Roxanne Robinson, a wonderful friend and APLA colleague, often joked that the Library was her ‘beach house.’ I call it our adopted child who lives on Main Street.”
Over the past 40 years, Joan has been involved with the restoration of the burned out former Baptist Church into the beautiful permanent home of the Allentown Public Library. “It is quite amazing to me, after all these years, to share in the success of the APLA. I am most fortunate to be the president of a Board of remarkably talented people who keep the building and grounds running at top form.”
“It is a huge honor to represent the Library, the APLA Board, and Allentown as the Grand Marshal of this iconic Lions Club Memorial Day parade.”