On June 30th, 1998 we lost a great person. For nearly four years Judy Mandernach battled ovarian cancer. Those who were close to Judy are grateful that her pain is gone forever, but we now miss our friend terribly. Judy was only 58.

For twenty five of my thirty two years, Judy was my friend. I first met Judy in 1973 when I was seven years old. Her son, Kent, played on the same soccer team that my buddy Jason Hale and I played on. Soon the Mandernachs, the Hales and the Stones were celebrating holidays and eachother's birthdays together and taking annual vacations to the Rocky Mountains. Thus, "The Group" was born. All the parents of "The Group", but especially Judy, always made me feel more like a peer than a child. She was always respectful of my opinions and was never patronizing. That meant so much to me. Judy possessed a rare ability for giving her full attention to you when you needed it most. My spirits were always lifted after talking to Judy about something that was bothering me, for I knew that someone else now understood my problem...it was a very comforting feeling. I know of no one that possesses this gift to the degree that Judy did and her unselfish willingness to use it is perhaps even more remarkable.

Judy had a wonderfully warm smile. And her laugh was often a unique mixture of sincerity and playfull mischievousness. I think some of the below pictures captured these qualities. Judy loved the outdoors, especially Brushyland (my dad's land in East Texas) and it's not hard to envision her sitting around a warm campfire on a cold Thanksgiving Day or judging an Easter egg coloring contest under a canopy of East Texas pines. The memories of Judy will never fade from the minds of those who knew her and she will be fondly talked about in the future by people who never even had a chance to meet her...certainly by her children's children, certainly by my children.
Judy turns 36...1975. Judy is holding a slightly X-rated cake that my mom had made for her. At other people's birthday parties Judy always led the singing of "Happy Birthday"...I loved that.
Easter 1980 with Billie Hale. Judy loved celebrating each Easter & Thanksgiving at Brushyland. She and I cherished rituals such as these.
Judy certainly had a playful side to her. Here she is sitting in "The Outhouse" at Brushyland during the Summer of 1982.
Thanksgiving 1983. Sometimes it took three turkeys to feed all the people we had at a Brushyland Thanksgiving. From left to right, Pat Stone (my mom), Billie Hale, Judy Mandernach...and kneeling is Joy Gill.
Thanksgiving 1987. Each Thanksgiving, Judy would write the names of new guests who came to Thanksgiving at Brushyland on her special can. What a special can indeed.
Christmas 1987. Each Christmas the Mandernachs would have the Hales and the Stones over for some of Judy's delicious Christmas noodles. We'd all draw names at Thanksgiving and then bring a gift to our "secret" recipient.
What a great expression! I love this picture...it was taken at my parents' 1992 Super Bowl party.

Return to my home page