The Rev. Canon Barbara C. Mudge, a native of Laguna Beach, died May 24 in Monterey, Calif. She lived in Bandon, Ore., from 1996 until she moved to Pebble Beach in April 2016 to live with her daughter and son-in-law. She was 85 years old and had been ill with cancer. She died from several strokes and seizures.
Barbara Duffield Covington was born Sept. 27, 1930, in her parent’s cottage on Cypress Avenue in Laguna Beach, Calif. She was raised in South Pasadena and was a two-time Rose Parade princess on the South Pasadena float. She earned a bachelor of arts at Occidental College and married her high school sweetheart, John Mudge. They moved to Laguna in 1963 to raise their three children. She was a dedicated, revered, beloved, and award-winning teacher in the Laguna Beach Unified School District (at the now closed Aliso Elementary and Thurston Middle School) until she retired from teaching in 1980.
Heeding a longtime call to the priesthood, she entered seminary at Bloy House, the Episcopal Theological School at Claremont, and received a masters of divinity. She spent a year at Church Divinity School of the Pacific in Berkeley, after which she was ordained to the priesthood in 1983 by Bishop George W. Barrett in the Diocese of Los Angeles. She was the first woman in Orange County to be ordained in the Episcopal Church, blazing a path for other women to follow.
She served as an assistant priest at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Laguna, where she and her family were longtime members of the congregation, and served as hospital chaplain at the former South Coast Medical Center. She officiated at the weddings of many of her former students as well as that of her own children, which gave her much joy. She was called to be vicar at St. Francis in Simi Valley (1984-1995), chaired the Simi Valley Interfaith Coalition for the Homeless and Needy, and was president of the Southern California Ecumenical Council from 1994 to 1995. She was named an honorary canon of the Cathedral Center of St. Paul (Los Angeles) in 1993.
Upon retirement from St. Francis in 1996, Barbara and John moved to Bandon, Ore. She was soon called to be the vicar at St. John’s Episcopal in Bandon. Mudge served in several capacities for the Diocese of Oregon and was recently priest-in-charge at St. Christopher’s in Port Orford, Ore. Known as “Rev. Mum,” both Barbara and John Mudge were instrumental in establishing St. John’s Preschool in 2000 and both continued to serve on the board of directors after it was renamed Bandon Community Preschool in 2008. She also helped establish the Everyone At Table weekly nutritional program in 2004 and was an active supporter of the Good Neighbors Food Bank.
She is survived by daughter, Suzanne Mudge (Rolf Donahower) of Pebble Beach; sons, James Mudge of San Luis Obispo and Steve Mudge (Delia) in Fort Worth, Texas; six grandchildren; brother Richard Covington (Claire) and sister Patricia Elliott (Craig); numerous nieces and nephews; her cat, Buttons; and a host of very dear friends and family from Laguna Beach, Simi Valley, Bandon, and Carmel.
Her husband of 61 years, John Leonard Mudge, died in 2012.
All are invited to attend a celebration of her remarkable life on Aug. 13, 11 a.m., at St. Mary’s Church, 428 Park Ave., in Laguna Beach. A reception will follow in the Guild Hall and Parish Gardens. In lieu of flowers, please make donations in her memory to the Carmel Bach Festival (P.O. Box 575, Carmel, CA 93921) or the Bandon Community Preschool (P.O. Box 1705, Bandon, OR 97411-1705).
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