Surrounded by her loving family, Judith Marie (Judy) Engelstad died peacefully on September 5, 2018, at her home in Broomfield, Colorado.
Judy is survived by Don, her husband of 51 years, son Mark, wife Jann, and grandkids Gavin and Erika (Denver), son Jon, wife Carrie, and grandkids Abby, Erin, Max, and Heidi (Albuquerque), sister Janet Ficken Karner (Charlotte, NC), sister Linda Ashley and husband Gary (Milledgeville, GA), niece Kimberly Ashley Wright, husband Don, and great nieces Kendall and Brynn (Atlanta), nephew Corey Ashley (Wanda), and great nephews Taylor and CJ (Atlanta), and legions of friends across the United States and Canada.
Judy was predeceased by her parents, Henry and Esther Ficken, and by sister, Nancy Ficken.
Judy loved her family and friends, and especially her 6 grandchildren who were the “lights of her life.” She was very proud of all that her family has accomplished.
Judy was born on April 9, 1942, and was raised on a farm 3 miles outside of Melvin, IL, a town of some 400 residents approximately 100 miles south of Chicago. Throughout her entire life, she radiated small-town values of hard work, fairness, respect for others, and kindness. She always put the needs of others ahead of her own.
While in high school, Judy was active in a wide variety of academic, music, dance, and 4-H events. She was homecoming queen in her senior year, and won a state-wide 4-H public speaking contest, where she advocated for abolition of the death penalty.
Judy attended the University of Illinois where she earned a degree in elementary education. She started her teaching career in Madison, Wisconsin, where she met Don, who was a graduate student from Canada. After a few years of child raising, she returned to her “calling” in Texas where she taught 4th graders for over 25 years. She was a fantastic teacher and team leader who was loved and honored by her students, their parents, and her colleagues. In fact, one experienced principal told her that she was the best teacher she had ever observed!
Judy loved to ride her bicycle and hike in the mountains just a few miles to the west of her home. However, as her cancer progressed, she transitioned her focus to various political and social causes. And some of these causes she pursued with unbridled fervor! For example, when the End of Life Options bill failed twice in the Colorado state legislature (even though Judy and many others testified at the Capitol in its favor) she, along with other friends, worked with great dedication to collect enough signatures to get the matter on the ballot, where it passed with a two-thirds majority.
Judy dealt with her disease with courage, grace, and most of the time with a sense of humor and with that infectious smile on her face. The words, “Why me?” were never uttered during her journey.
A “Celebration of Judy’s Life” will take place at the Boulder Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship (1241 Ceres Drive, in Lafayette, CO) on Saturday, September 29, at 11:00 a.m. From 2:00 to 5:00 on that same day, there will be an Open House at the Engelstad home in Broomfield.
And because of all the friends Judy has in Texas, an additional service of celebration and remembrance will be held at the First United Methodist Church in Missouri City, TX, on Friday, October 12, at 3:00 p.m.
For those of you who would like to make a memorial donation in Judy’s name, please make it to the Gynecologic Oncology Fellowship Fund at the University of Colorado Foundation, PO Box 17126, Denver, CO 80217-9155, or to the charity of your choice.
In dying, Judy has taught us how to live! Her spirit lives on and she will never be forgotten!