Santa Clara Magazine is published in print for alumni and friends of the University. It is updated weekly on the web.
Born in San Francisco on Dec. 9, 1933, to Margaret Bannan Abrahamsen and Gunlek Olavus Abrahamsen, Mary Abrahamsen Cahalan ’56 graduated from Mercy High School in 1951, before earning a B.S. in chemistry from Dominican College in 1955. Following graduation, Mary enjoyed working as a lab technician at UCSF. She married Donald Joseph Ruder on May 30, 1959. Together they raised five children in Menlo Park and Atherton and enjoyed an active retirement until Don’s passing in 1995. Mary was happiest surrounded by family and friends, and she was a wonderful hostess to many a gathering under her roof. She was a devout Catholic and was very active in the Church and the neighborhood, treasuring her many close friends from both communities. Mary was a masterful organizer and was a valued volunteer and great supporter of the Nativity School and Church in Menlo Park, Bellarmine College Preparatory in San Jose, and SCU, where she served on the Board of Regents for several years. Mary also contributed many hours toward fundraising efforts benefitting the Ronald McDonald House at Stanford Children’s Hospital. Mary and Don were also members of the Menlo Circus Club, where she played bridge and Don played tennis a few times a week. She served enthusiastically on the club’s membership committee, as she truly enjoyed socializing with active and potential members. After a brisk romance, Mary wed longtime family dentist Gerald Edward Cahalan in 2001, and the two had several happy years together before Gerry’s death in 2004. For the last three years of her life, Mary was cared for compassionately by Rose Arellano and her staff at Gardens Senior Care in San Jose, and by the caregivers from Vitas Hospice. She died peacefully on Feb. 28, 2018, after a long struggle with Alzheimer’s disease. Mary is survived by her children, Ed (Lisa), Phil (Lisa), Megan (John) Martinelli, Joe (Steve Pace), and Gun (Junko); 15 grandchildren; her three siblings, Terry Clark, Phil (Marcia) Abrahamsen ’61, and Laurie (Carol) Abrahamsen ’65; and many nieces, nephews, and cousins.