Lelia Ida Russ, affectionately known as Sweetie, Mama Lee and Gay Gay, was born to the late William and Hattie Ritzie, on April 22, 1922 in Harlem, N.Y. Gay Gay was the youngest of six, who all proceeded her in death. She attended and graduated from the NYC public school system. Gay Gay did what many of us didn’t and will never do, she lived to get to the age of 100, two months shy of being 101!
Gay Gay met and married John Pudigon, and from this union came her one and only beautiful, devoted child, Janice who she loved and adored. While caring for her daughter, Gay Gay took up sewing. She loved sewing so much she became a seamstress and began working in the garment district, making custom-made men’s shirts. Later in life Gay Gay met and married her late husband, Clinton, they remained married until Clinton’s demise in 1995. They lived in Coram, N.Y. where they enjoyed life. They enjoyed family, traveling and fishing together.
At 100, Gay Gay had many loves, she loved the casino, scratch offs (that she was lucky at), cruising, crossword puzzles, court shows and a good drink. Gay Gay read two newspapers, everyday! She spoke until her last minute, with her last words being Christy, Christy and Good Night Janice. Janice had no problem caring for her mom until the end and would do it all over again.
Gay Gay was the beginning of a five-generation family and she will forever be remembered by her daughter, Janice (deceased son-in-law John), her five grandchildren Christy, Candace (their father and wife Herbert, Susan Plummer), Kurt (Patricia), Erik (Laurie), and John (Heather) her eleven great grandchildren Natasia, Larry, Justin, Jack, Samantha, Hudson, Allie, Graham, Tanner, Jocelyn and Grant, her four great great grandchildren Breeana, Dayln, Madison and Jaila, her beloved bird, Figgie and a host of other nieces and nephews. Gay Gay will also be missed by her extended family friends who loved her dearly.