Saturday, May 03, 2008

in memory of judi

I just wanted to write a little nod of tribute to a very nice lady. Judi Beach was a warm, gentle, kind person who kind of floated on the periphery of my life for as long as I can remember. She and her husband, Stu, were friends with my mom and dad. I guess Dad and Stu met when they taught together at Brookdale College in New Jersey.

Anyhoo, we weren't close friends or in close contact, but I always admired Judi a lot. She and Stu would pop up once in a while to go for a walk with us or have lunch.

Like a lot of "grown up's" that you meet when you are a tiny kid, Judi always had an aura of mystery for me. It didn't matter how old I got...she was still towering in my mind. I knew Judi was a writer and poet. I grew up knowing that she had "published things," which added to her mystery and prestige.

Not that Judi encouraged people to be in awe of her. Just the opposite. She wanted everyone to write. Write something. Write everything. Channel that experience. Leave markers on the trail of life for others. Leave something behind. I guess that she was the kind of artist that I aspire to be--one who encourages others. She believed, as I do, that we must all create just for the sake of creating. If humans deserve to be on this planet at all, it is because we can create cool things. Whether that justifies our presence I don't know--but it's better than constant and mindless consumption. Create something. Something good.

Judi was passionately involved with the International Women's Writing Guild. She was the Maine region-rep for that group for years and spent lots of time cultivating local "kitchen tables" of writers. In a state full of agoraphobic and highly eccentric Yankees, that must have been quite a windmill-tilting experience. But I know she mentored lots of great writers who have made (and still make) Maine a better place.

At the last lunch Mom and I had with Judi, she was encouraging me to be a part of that group. I took her advice, tho the IWWG is on the periphery of my life much as she was. It is chock full of very cool women. I recommend it highly. The IWWG's annual conference, Remember the Magic, is held in Saratoga Springs, NY. That place is well worth the trip whether you write or not. If you write tho, Remember the Magic is the place to be.

Judi was a wonderful person and I will miss her flitting yet ever-soothing presence. Well--in body, at least. I'm sure she is still around. Especially in the creaky farmhouses and rain-anointed orchards of the Coastal Maine that she loved.

WERU Community Radio put up a nice tribute to her, which I will paste here because it includes her memorial preferences.

See you around, Judi. I'm followin' along as best I can.

JUDITH BEACH: Community Radio WERU just lost another amazingly wonderful human being with the passing Monday of Judi Beach, from cancer. Judi was the long-time host and producer of the Poetry Pantry short feature on Monday’s Earthtones, working closely first with Karen Larsen and then later with Lee Whitting. Judi will be greatly missed.

The Poetry Pantry was well-produced, elegantly literary short-feature that presented a wide range of poets and poetic subjects on WERU. Judi’s periodic visits to the station to work on the program were a treat for us, as her kind heart and warm demeanor were enjoyed by everyone she engaged. Her late husband Stewart, a similarly easy-to-enjoy person, passed away a few years earlier, soon after starting his volunteer career at WERU. It was a blessing to have known them both and great fortune to have had Judi as part of the WERU family for a good number of happy, poetic years.

Her good friend and WERU cohort Karen Larsen had this to say: “Judi’s love of poetry was also her love of life, her friends and family, and the everyday blessings around her. We shared many laughs and tears together and I shall miss her.”

No memorial service plans have been made, to our knowledge, as of yet but we’ll inform WERU when there are. Karen is working on excerpting recordings of the Poetry Pantry that featured Judi’s own poems and producing them for archiving on the station web site and we’ll let everyone know when they are posted.-Matt Murphy, WERU General Manager

In lieu of flowers, donations in Judi’s name can be made for scholarships to programs of the International Women’s Writing Guild, P.O. Box 810, Gracie Station, New York, N.Y. 10028

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