Our dear, sweet, graceful, wise, and beautiful Judith lost her war with cancer on January 16, 2013, having lived fully and happily for almost 10 years with a disease that devastated her body in many ways, but that many people didn't even know she had. (And, oh yes, many of you know her as Judy Wolfe or Judy Mount).
Judith was the champion practitioner of the positive sense of "Live for Today".
She got up each day thinking "this will be a good day", and never worried about what was to come.
She prepared for it, but it never seemed to bother her.
Of course, her illness frequently drained her of energy and strength, but never her spirit.
I never heard her complain about her situation.
I mean that literally; I don't think it happened.
She acknowledged it when she had to, but never let it get her down, except, briefly, at the moments when she had to acknowledge that she just couldn't make it to some professional or social event, or maybe moreso, for my sake, when I wouldn't go without her.
Wonderful - amazing, generous, kind - support from her staff and her employer (Forest City Enterprises) allowed her to take time away from work for treatment, and to spend time with me and with our nephews, Gregory and Daniel
Even in her last hospital say, when the physicians said, "This is it. You only have two or three weeks", she said "We'll see". She didn't deny the liklihood, she just didn't see any need to assume it.
Then, at the very end, a couple of days before she went to sleep for the last time, she finally said "Well, it looks like I'm not going to make 10 years."
That was it, no fear, no other regrets, no tears, just grace and love.
Her Obituary and Guest Book are on the funeral home's web site.
We held a Celebration of Her Life at the historic Silver Grille Cleveland's Tower City, anchored by the landmark Terminal Tower, where Judith worked. About 200 people shared memories and heard ten tender eulogies. I recorded three eulogies and have gathered transcripts of some others.
At the celebration, Councilman Jay Westbrook presesented a
Resolution of Condolance from the Cleveland City Council.
We held another celebration in Dallas, at the Meadows Art Museum on the SMU campus.
About 60 people were there. Aside from about half a dozen eulogies, Judith's childhood friend, Billie Woods and her musical partner played some of their gentle music that was so vital to helping Judith through periods of pain and discomfort. I'm sorry to say that I don't have any photos or videos of the event.
Judith spoke of death in only two contexts
- Making financial arrangements. For example, "Ok, Dr. Pelley, my car lease is about to expire. How long should my next lease be?" He said one or two years; she lasted another seven.
- Making arrangements to spend time with the boys and me, and taking them to more exotic places that we would otherwise do, knowing that she wouldn't have the opportunity to share those kinds of experience later.
I have tried to honor Judith with several memorial contributions, several of which resulted (or will result) in physical or online memorials. I focused on
Memorials in locations that were important to us:
- Memorials in Parks. We spent a lot of time hiking in parks all over Minnesota during our eight years there, and around Cleveland as long as her health allowed it. She specifically did not want a grave; she wanted a memorial of kind in a park.
- Mentoring. Judith was a mentor, both naturally and actively. She mentored several friends who dealt with cancer, volunteered as a tutor and mentor, and was renowned for her mentoring efforts at work.
- Dallas: An endowment fund at Parkland Hospital to provide diagnostic cancer procedures for people who would not otherwise be able to afford them. It provides several thousand dollars year to people who really benefit from it.
The endowment which was the brainchild of our close friend, Judy Ward.
In the summer of 2012, Judy, who was on a financial advisory committee at Parkland,
had the wonderful idea of asking our close friends and family to contribute to an endowment
and to present the results to Judith for her birthday.
When I asked her closest colleagues at work, they said,
"Oh, please, Judith is so admired and respected that we have to open this to everyone she works with, including people outside of the company."
Well, we did, and in addition to generous contributions from family and close friends everywhere we've lived, we received contributions from at least 20 work colleagues in four states. (And, for the most part, her not-real-close colleages at work and her outside colleagues did not know of her illness.)
We surprised Judith at a birthday lunch with her staff and some senior company executives.
She was, of course, thrilled and honored, but, to me, the remarkable part of the story is the joy that Judith felt as she enthusiastically wrote thank-you notes.
- Southern Methodist University: A fund to provide outreach, mentoring, and remedial education to women who might not otherwise even consider the possibility of a substantial education and a professional career. The school then honored her with a dedicated bench next to McFarlinAuditorium, where had what I thought of as our first date at a Bread concert in 1971, and where this remarkable photo of Judith warming up before a dance recital was taken in 1988.
- Minneapolis: A contribution to the construction of a entry amphitheater at the Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden and Bird Sanctuary
in Wirth Park.
The park was about three miles from our house, and was our go-to hiking destination.
We enjoyed several visits to this remarkable garden very much, and, in particular,
we spent many, many happy hours hiking the trails near and around the garden with our dogs, first Topper, and then Scooter.
The project has taken almost seven years to come together, but it is now officially underway.
Imagine an open hillside amphitheater in front of the entrance gate depicted in this photo.
The only representation of the amphitheater I have at this point is this sketch, which omits the garden fence and foliage behind it.
The pictures on the web site don't really capture the character of the garden. It is 15 acres with meadows, forests, wetlands, and an 80 foot difference between the highest and lowest points in the park.
See these Google Map photos and videos and this trail map with elevation contour lines.
- Cleveland: Edgewater Park is just one mile from our house and extends for close to a mile along Lake Erie.
I endowed a park trail that we regularly used, and for which the park had improvement ambitions
In return, the park system installed a beautiful landscaped memorial in her honor.
- Cleveland Clinic, where she was treated for her cancer. At her death, several of her friends and family contributed to a general fund within the Cancer Center.
Later, I made a donation to the 4th Angel patient mentoring program specifically for the development of a web application for the nation-wide registration and matching of mentors and patients. Judith is memorialized on the 4th Angel donation page.
Photo Videos - I've tried, with limited success, to set Judith's photo albums to music. I can't
post all them on YouTube because I used copyrighted songs, but for the very limited
audience of this memorial page, I'm comfortable re-publishing those songs here. You'll just have to wait a while
for the video to download before it starts playing.
My Precious Judith, may she rest in peace
Around Our House:
Travel & Sights:
And, finally, we held another celebration Judith's life on Saturday, March 16, 2013, at the Meadows Art Museum on the SMU Campus in Dallas (where we went to college).
I didn't get any videos or useful photos from that event, but, again, we had wonderful eulogies and comraderie, and shared the joy that she brought to us.
- Judy's Childhood and Youth (Must download)
- 1974 - 2002 (Must download)
- The last ten years - 2003-2013 (On YouTube, without captions, and with music from our friend, Billie Woods.)