How do you condense 26 years of amazing stories into 10 minutes? There is so much to say but I will touch on a few moments and thoughts that will always bring a smile to my face. The fact is Judy was my BFF before the term even existed. And to think it all started because she lost a bet. In today’s society, the way I pursued Judy would have been considered stalking and I would be doing time.
I had actually met Judy at freshman orientation at Ithaca College. A year and a half later, we both changed majors prior to our second semester sophomore year. I walked into my first class and there she was. Ditto on the second class, and the third. So, after a while, I noticed Judy headed to the library and I headed elsewhere. A few weeks later, I started what I will call “shadowing” her to the library. This led to our friend Mike saying, “I bet you he will ask you out before the end of the semester, and if he does, you have to say yes.” Thus began the 30-year relationship with the only girl in Ithaca College history to drink the starting quarterback of the football team under the table.
I think everyone here knows, Judy and I had a love affair that was filled with adventure, amazing experiences, and some trauma … many shared with people in this room. Every activity, good or bad, centered around our love for each other. The funny thing is, our love was a bit of an oxymoron. We were really yin and yang, but at all times, our love and lives were in sync with each other.
Before many of you knew her, there was the Judy that did not get her driver’s license until she was 21 because everyone drove her around. And of course, there is a story. Prior to Hagerstown, Judy was in training with a regional bank in Albany. Part of the training had her traveling to Saratoga during an ice storm. Cruising up the Interstate, she hears “slow down the roads are icy.” Freaked out, she starts toying with the radio and proceeds. This was followed by another warning to slow down. At this stage she begins to drive erratically, she looks over and sees a State Trooper who motions her to pull over. He proceeds to say “Didn’t you hear my warnings?” At which Judy replied, “Thank goodness it was you. I thought God was talking to me through the radio!” This is one of those stories where, as her high school friend Liz stated, “You laughed and laughed, then laughed even harder at her laugh.”
In 1987, we were wed and began our life in Hagerstown. From the day she arrived, she began blazing her own path. At some point in time, role reversal kicked in. She went from being my wife to me becoming Judy’s husband. An amazing career woman, Judy climbed her way up the ladder, determined to break any glass ceilings that got in her way. This culminated into a 20 year career and the title of Sr. VP at Hagerstown Trust, where she earned the respect and admiration of so many people she worked with.
But even with a career, Judy always made time for her friends. Whenever someone was hurting, you could always count on her to be there. She always knew just what to say to make people feel better. And if she disagreed with you, you would definitely know it.
In our own life together, Judy had an amazing ability to separate work from family. So many times we would run into someone Judy helped and even if it was a friend, I would never know because it was imperative to her not to mix our social life with her work. Our life was filled with adventure from the first apartment where we had to put a freezer pack on a locked thermostat to generate heat, to building the house we still live in today to the birth of our daughter Rachel. The day Rachel entered the world, we immersed her with love, and that aura of love strengthened the already extraordinary bond the two of us had.
During most of my career, I have traveled extensively. They say that distance makes the heart grow fonder. Maybe that was the secret to our happiness, maybe not. All I know is that every day we spent together, I fell more and more in love with my wife. And every time I walked into the door after a trip, I fell more in love with her as I held her in my arms. As Rachel began the next phase in her life, we began ours. We always knew that we would not have to worry about Rachel. After all, look who her Mom was. So we began to embark on new journeys. Weekend trips, an amazing 25th anniversary weekend, and of course our recent trip to Costa Rica. I will miss these continuing adventures since we had just started. So many memories we shared, and so many untold stories we will never get to talk about.
But you all know Judy would not want us to mourn. You know she would want us to remember that infectious laugh that permeated the very essence of our souls. So now, here is what I want everyone to do. I want everyone to hold hands and take 30 seconds to think of a moment in time that Judy made you laugh. That is how she would want us to remember her.
There is of course so much more, and as we put to rest our friend, colleague, and the women who lit up my life every waking moment of every day, let’s not ponder the why. Let’s remember the extraordinary accomplishments of the person who brought joy to everyone she came in contact with. I know that I will never stop being in love with Judy. I am her, she is me, and she will forever be in my heart and soul.