Rudy Moll: Irrepressible Spirit

CARMICHAEL, CA (MPG)  |  Story and photos by Susan Maxwell Skinner
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Rudy Moll (89) last year marked 60 years on American soil. A popular community figure, the Dutch-Indonesian immigrant died recently in his Carmichael home.
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Rudy Moll performed in senior reviews with the Rhythm and Shoes dance troupe.

Citizen Rudy Dies After 60 Years in USA

CARMICHAEL, CA (MPG) - Immigrant, patriot and irrepressible spirit, Rudy Moll died recently at the age of 89.

Moll was beloved of Carmichael and Arden communities. In Sinatra hat and trademark red white and blue shirts, the little dancing man was a familiar figure at concerts, dances, air shows and any event that celebrated American culture.

Born in Dutch Indonesia, he spent teenage years in Japanese prisoner of war camps where he survived near-starvation and enforced labor. Before emigrating to the United States 61 years ago, he served the Royal Dutch Army in Holland.

Feast and famine shaped Moll’s life. Every rice grain was coveted by POWs during Japanese occupation of his homeland. When peace came in 1945, American rations were salvation. Moll was among many mixed-race immigrants who struggled for acceptance in Holland after Indonesian independence. He pursued a dream to live in the bountiful USA, whose air-dropped food helped save him.

Carmichael Presbyterian Church sponsored his immigration (with his first wife Sonja), in 1956. Their first landlady was Effie Yeaw. “She was strict,” he recalled of the community matriarch. “But she was fair. Everyone in Carmichael knew all about my wife and me. We were the first refugees they’d seen. We’d always lived in cities and we had to get used to village life.”

Moll last year celebrated his 60th year in the “village” that welcomed him.

No prouder patriot could be found. He recalled prisoners’ elation when US P-38s chased Japanese Zeros over Indonesia. “My father (an electrical engineer) refused to work for the Japanese,” he explained. “They loaded thousands of us in a ship and took us to Celebes. I was small, so I stayed with the women and children; pappie was taken to a men’s camp.

“We slept on hard bamboo cots and dreamed of breakfast. We finished every last grain of rice and it was never enough. The guards saw boys as future enemies and treated us bad. Mom protected me; she was terrified I’d be taken to men’s camp, where things were worse. We all learned to help each other; we also learned not to waste. When I see people throwing away food, I still remember those hungry times.

“The first American grocery store I saw was in Carmichael. My wife and I had never seen so much food; it seemed cheap. We wrote home that we were in the land of plenty.”  

The immigrant found a clerking job for PG&E in Arcade and retired from this company 30 years later. By then, he’d married his second wife, Mady. Music lovers, the Molls were dancing fixtures at local concerts. Moll also volunteered his baritone for the Northern Californian Vocal Artists Association and sang at Rhythm and Shoes dance performances. Passionate about American aircraft, he supported the P-38 National Association and any event that spotlighted aviation. 

A dapper figure at every senior social, Rudy was greeted by scores of friends. “I don’t feel like an immigrant,” considered the naturalized American. “My brown skin never bothered anyone here; I’ve always felt accepted. America has been good to me.”

Rudy Moll is survived by his wife Mady; daughters Maureen and Gisa; son Andy and numerous grandchildren and great grandchildren. His memorial service will be held on Tuesday, August 14, at St Ignatius Church (3235 Arden Way).

Rudy Moll (89) last year marked 60 years on American soil. A popular community figure, the Dutch-Indonesian immigrant died recently in his Carmichael home.Rudy Moll performed in senior reviews with the Rhythm and Shoes dance troupe.Photographed with his mother in 1946, schoolboy Rudy and his parents spent the years of WWII as prisoners of war. Family photo.