Crime & Public Safety

Bluffton woman who died in shooting was devoted mom, teacher and friend who listened

Jennifer Rudemyer is remembered as an master organizer who, recently, had found her niche.

“She was such a neat freak,” Rudemyer’s friend, Heather Bruemmer, said Wednesday afternoon. “Which is how she came to her business, which is really her calling.”

Before her death from a self-inflicted gunshot Tuesday, Rudemyer, 39, of Bluffton, operated Coastal Clutter Queen, which, according to its Facebook page, “specializes in professional organizational solutions for your home, office, and moving needs.”

Rudemyer was one of two people shot during the incident in Spanish Wells Plantation on Hilton Head Island. The other, Dr. Gaston Perez, a 60-year-old physician who practices in Bluffton, suffered multiple bullet wounds in a case the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office continues to investigate.

As of Wednesday afternoon, Perez was in stable condition at a Savannah hospital, according to the Sheriff’s Office. And Rudemyer’s family, friends and neighbors were still coming to grips with her death — they remembered her as a friendly community member, a caring person and an engaged mother.

“She goes by ‘Jenny Ru,’” said Bluffton Park neighbor Alan Gallardo, who lives just around the corner from her former house off Able Street.

“She was a really good mom,” Gallardo continued. “Completely attentive — I know that from firsthand experience.”

Gallardo added that she’d helped encourage one of his children, who was learning how to ride a bike.

“From what we could tell, she just had this really bad string of luck,” he said, adding that, lately, she’d seemed “constantly stressed.”

Gallardo said Rudemyer’s business was struggling, which Bruemmer also mentioned.

County court records show she’d recently been subject to foreclosure proceedings.

And on Facebook, Rudemyer complained about relationship problems between herself and Perez — they’d dated off and on for several years, according to Perez’s son, Alex.

“As bad of a situation as she was in, she did not ever fail to think of what she could do for someone else,” Bruemmer said.

Bruemmer met her when their children started kindergarten almost a decade ago. While Bruemmer later moved to Estill, she continued to work in Bluffton, and she and Rudemyer remained close.

They bonded over books and chuckled when people used poor grammar.

“Jen was an incredibly kind and incredibly funny individual,” Bruemmer said, “with such a bubbly personality.”

Bruemmer, a writer, said her friend was a sharp English teacher, working most recently at H.E. McCracken Middle School from 2008-17, according to the Beaufort County School District.

The pair had “girls’ nights” out together occasionally, and Bruemmer remembers her friend joking with her about her car, messy from Bruemmer’s six children and multicounty commute.

“A lot of times I’d pick (Rudemyer) up,” Bruemmer said, “and she’d say, ‘Heather, you have got to let me clean this car — it haunts me!’”

And Bruemmer remembered the time she needed something to wear to the RBC Heritage after she’d been given box-seat tickets. Rudemyer, who’d recently helped a client clean out and organize a closet, had the answer: the woman had gotten rid of a dress, and Rudemyer knew it would be perfect for her friend.

“I still have that dress,” Bruemmer said.

Rudemyer was working on a private-school scholarship application for her daughter during one of the last times she was with Bruemmer.

And Rudemyer’s daughter would get the scholarship, according to Bruemmer.

“She was so devoted to (her daughter),” Bruemmer said. “So proud of her. An active mom.”

Rudemyer’s mother, Carol Votta, said her daughter “loved to inspire children to read.”

“That was her passion as a teacher,” Votta said.

Rudemyer, originally from Carmel, New York, moved to the Lowcountry about eight years ago, her mother said.

“She was always willing to reach out and listen to a friend,” Votta said. “And if anybody was going through a troubled time, she was there ... .

“I want Jennifer to be remembered with love,” Votta said.