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Legendary Locals: Entrepreneur Leads Fight Against Cancer
by: Debbie L. Sklar
Trudell lost his late wife and mother to cancer.
Trudell lost his late wife and mother to cancer.

Gary Trudell of Ladera Ranch has a busy mattress business but that hasn’t stopped him from creating an important foundation.

Trudell, 37, helped to create the Mischel Foundation, named after terminal brain cancer victim Rob Mischel who died at age 35. The proceeds from the foundation go to Rob’s sons.

“My own mother passed away from brain cancer when I was only 7,” Trudell says. “Tyler and Kyle, (Rob's sons), are 9 and 11. Their mother also passed away 4 years ago from cervical cancer. I just couldn't stand by without doing anything to help because it hit so close to home.”

As co-owner of Custom Comfort Mattress Co. Inc., along with his brother, Trudell says he always dreamed of being a businessman. But as successful as he is in that area of his life, he is also immersed in helping others.

He says that volunteering is good for the community and makes it stronger.

“It brings so many good people out of the woodwork. I was in awe of how many people were willing to help with no questions asked,” he says. “I feel our community really came together.”

It may be a balancing act between running a business and devoting his time to the foundation, but he does it.

“I just have to make the time; I have to pull a little from every aspect of my life and make sacrifices,” he shares. “I must admit that it's hard, but well worth it because I know I'm doing the right thing. The love and support from my wife also helps tremendously.”

Being involved in philanthropy, he says, has been a great reminder of what that his own parents always told him when he was growing up, “It is better to give than to receive.”

“The best part of it all is knowing that I was able to help someone in need,” he says.

Born and raised in Fullerton, Trudell says the key to his success has been surrounding himself with good people. It may also have something to do with his humble beginnings.

“My hero is my father; he and my mother had 10 kids,” he says. “He was suddenly a single parent when my mom passed away. My dad had to work so hard to provide for us. He did his best to make sure we had food on the table and clothes on our backs. He taught me that if I want something bad enough and to appreciate things, I have to work for it. Because of my father, I learned the true meaning of a strong work ethic.”

He also had a mentor, Paul Codaspoti, who owned Giovanni's Pizza in Fullerton.

“I worked there from the day I graduated from 8th grade until my second year of college. He passed away more than 10 years ago from cancer,” Trudell says. “He was a wonderful man.”

Trudell has been married to his wife, Jenny for 12 1/2 years, and they have three children.

And when it comes right down it, he says, “The most important things in life aren't things.”


Debbie L. Sklar is a 20+year journalism veteran residing in Southern California, where she is a writer, columnist and editor for many local, regional and national publications. Sklar may be reached via e-mail at

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