Smith Brothers Restaurants
HomeCity NewsElizabeth Rusnak Arizmendi | Obituary

Elizabeth Rusnak Arizmendi | Obituary

Elizabeth Rusnak Arizmendi, a loving wife, mother, daughter and longtime vice president of Rusnak Auto Group, passed away on March 17, 2022, following a courageous six-year battle with ovarian cancer. She was 59.
Liz was born on Sept. 29, 1962, at Daniel Freeman Memorial Hospital in Inglewood. She attended St. Bede School in La Cañada Flintridge through 8th grade, then graduated from Mayfield Senior School in Pasadena in 1981. She attended the University of Southern California and graduated in 1985 with a double-major in communications and business.
Liz became a highly successful businesswoman, serving as Rusnak Auto Group’s vice president of public relations for two decades. She helped the company that her father, Paul Rusnak, founded reach remarkable heights in California’s automobile industry.
However, she was just as passionate supporting nonprofit organizations. She was an award-winning volunteer who used her time, talent and treasure to aid those who greatly needed assistance.
“She was a person who could give, and she had a lot to give,” said Andrew Arizmendi, her high school sweetheart and husband of nearly 31 years. “These were part of her deeply religious views. If she could make this world a better place, she was going to do it. And when Liz makes up her mind to do something, do not get in her way.”
“She was one of a kind,” said her father, Paul Rusnak, chairman and founder of Rusnak Auto Group. “She lived life to the fullest. She was very giving, very philanthropic. She was a great daughter, mother and wife. 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 every day to the fullest, with a true zest. As a mother to Andrew II and Isabella, she instilled the same values and spirit she exemplified.

Liz (third from left) with husband Andrew, daughter Isabella and son Andrew II

“She was also a great athlete,” Paul Rusnak added. “She was a world-class skier. In her era, she was the ‘Queen of Lake Arrowhead.’”
A telling sign of how well-respected and admired she was were the honors and recognitions she received, which crossed the political aisle. She was awarded the Congressional Recognition for Outstanding and Invaluable Service to the Community by Congressman Adam Schiff, Certificate of Recognition of Service from state Sen. David Dreier and state Sen. Carol Liu, and Certificate of Commendation from L.A. County Supervisor Michael Antonovich.
Liz was a director for multiple nonprofit organizations’ boards, including Hillsides, Five Acres and the Make-A-Wish Foundation Tri-Counties, and was a co-founder of Cancer Support Community Pasadena’s highly successful Ladies’ Night Out fundraiser. Children’s Hospital Los Angeles was also among her favorite nonprofits that she supported.
Liz was a sought-after inspirational/keynote speaker and was featured at the USC Women’s Conference, High Point University Women’s Conference, All Stars Los Angeles and the Women’s Council of Realtors of Southern California. She also served as a judge for Miss California USA.
Through her friendliness, personality, business acumen and philanthropy, Liz was able to connect friends, business leaders and politicians with nonprofit organizations which resulted in incalculable numbers of donations and support. This was likely considered to be among her most valuable contributions to society, rivaling what she achieved in her illustrious professional career.
“She was a force of nature,” said Meg Symes, former executive director of Cancer Support Community Pasadena who was a close friend of Liz for decades. “She had the courage, passion, enthusiasm and more strength than anyone I’ve ever met.”

Symes added that Liz and Rusnak Auto Group were honored with CSCP’s prestigious Angel Award in 2017. “They certainly were well-deserved honorees,” Symes said. “Liz was very generous to CSCP.”
She also served as Hillsides’ Centennial Gala chair and, in 2017, she was honored with the Outstanding Philanthropic Award from the Association Fundraising Professionals’ Greater Los Angeles Chapter.
“Liz was a powerhouse,” said Pattie Mullins, CEO of Make-A-Wish Foundation Tri-Counties. “She was just a really great person. She was very smart and business savvy, and she also would do anything to help. She was very charitable to many causes, and she didn’t take ‘no’ for an answer.

Liz with her father, Paul Rusnak

“I really admired her as a human being. I miss her every day.”
The Rusnak-Arizmendi family is steeped in Catholic education, with Liz’s father, husband and son each graduating from Loyola High School in Los Angeles. “She used to say that there’s not many women who hit the trifecta!” her husband said. “We are two old souls together on this earth. I know I’ll see her for eternity. She was a mom who made sure that our kids were good citizens, good students and good Catholics.”
Liz is survived by her husband Andrew Arizmendi; their children Andrew II and Isabella; father Paul Rusnak; mother Susanne Jaffe; and sister Victoria.
The family is especially grateful for the amazing efforts of Liz’s team of doctors: Dr. Raul Menna, Dr. Richard Friedman, Dr. Sharon Nelson, Dr. Oliver Dorigo, Dr. Gottfried Konecny, Dr. Daniel Greenwald, Dr. Joe Pachorek, as well as Cynthia Chandler of UCLA Oncology.
Funeral services will be held on Saturday, June 10, at St. Bede Catholic Church in La Cañada Flintridge. The ceremony will be private, family members said. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to any of the nonprofit organizations that Liz supported.

Maya Richard-Craven, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, and Charlie Plowman contributed to this obituary.

Most Popular

[bsa_pro_ad_space id=3]