Former Montana First Lady Carol Ann Judge, 73, passed away on Dec. 7, 2014.
She was born June 7, 1941, in Los Angeles to Kermit Anderson, who had established Anderson Advertising Agency in Los Angeles, and Hazel Anderson, a homemaker and part-time dietitian. Carol grew up with a deep appreciation of the diversity of people, cultures and foods in the area. She developed a lifelong love of the ocean and enjoyed all that the big city had to offer a little girl. She was a Brownie, took swim and dance lessons, and learned to ice skate.
The family moved back to Helena when she was 10, and she was proud to graduate from Bryant Elementary, just as her parents had. Her 1958 Helena High School graduation came exactly 30 years after her parents, and 30 years prior to her second son. In 1962, she graduated with honors from Montana State University with a degree in nursing. She earned her master's degree in psychiatric nursing in 1983, also from MSU.
Carol accepted her first nursing job in Missoula in 1962, starting a career that would span a half-century and encompass a wide variety of settings and positions. She applied her skills with grace and compassion, whether as a public health nurse, school nurse, nurse consultant for the state, a VA hospital nurse, or an addictions and mental health counselor.
In the fall of 1966, Carol established Helena's first Home Health Agency at St. Peter's Hospital, with the strong support of the hospital administrator.
In 1973, when her husband Thomas L. Judge became governor, she began a tireless campaign to improve the 12 state institutions. Her initial focus was on the state psychiatric hospital in Warm Springs, and the Boulder River School and Hospital, now the Montana Developmental Center. She enlisted help from people all across the state — medical professionals, legislators and their wives, concerned citizens, friends, family and co-workers from the past. Over the next several years, each of the institutions was updated and significant improvements were made in staffing. By the end of Tom Judge's second term as governor, Carol had visited all 12 institutions to personally witness the improvements.
In the early 1970s, Carol joined first ladies from across the country to address another major problem — dangerously low immunization rates in children. The ensuing "Every Child in '76" campaign culminated in major legislation signed into law by Gov. Judge in 1979. Similar success was seen in Carol's efforts to reform the approach taken to substance abuse issues. By 1974, it was coming to the public's attention that substance abuse was a treatable condition. This realization helped to reduce the stigma around alcohol and drug abuse, and to facilitate compassionate and effective treatment. Building on the American Medical Association's landmark decision recognizing alcoholism as a disease, Carol coordinated efforts to codify that classification into Montana law. These efforts paid off in the 1975 legislative session with passage of a bill adopting that classification and decriminalizing alcoholism.
In 1977, Carol's advocacy on behalf of the chemically dependent and mentally ill was rewarded with her appointment to the Liaison Panel on Alcohol Related Problems for the President's Mental Health Commission. During one memorable trip to Washington, D.C., Carol enjoyed a private meeting with first lady Rosalynn Carter in which they shared her thoughts on helping the mentally ill.
In 1987, Carol began another collaborative campaign, to help nurses suffering from substance abuse. At the time, nurses found to be chemically dependent were often thrown into jail and had their nursing licenses revoked. In addition to losing their jobs, they sometimes also lost their families and even their lives due to suicide. To turn this bleak situation around, Carol reached out to the Montana Nurses Association and Montana State Board of Nursing for help in establishing a Nurses Assistance Program (NAP). The legislation passed in 1989, and the first NAP was started in Missoula. At the present time, there are approximately 90 nurses receiving assessment, treatment and monitoring services through NAPs in the state.
In 1985, she began a 22-year career working at Fort Harrison Veterans Hospital. She was a dedicated advocate for those who had served their country, particularly those struggling with mental health or chemical dependency issues. After a brief retirement, she applied for a part-time RN position at the Behavioral Health Unit at St. Peter's Hospital in 2009. When she became ill, she found it necessary to step down from this position.
In recognition of her contributions to the field of nursing in the state of Montana, in 2008 she was awarded the Montana Nurse's Association Distinguished Nurse of the Year award.
Carol's faith and spirit of service were central tenets of her personality. She was an active member of the St. Helena Cathedral parish, and a founding member of Family Promise. She served as a Eucharistic minister, delivering communion to the home-bound and assisting at funerals, and was also among the first group of volunteers for No One Dies Alone when it began its vigils at St. Peter's Hospital.
Of all the many roles she had throughout her life, she always stated that her most cherished was being a mom. And as with the others, this was a role in which she truly excelled, exhibiting unending devotion to her children. She relished the close friendship she had with Thomas and Patrick.
She was deeply grateful for the profound and compassionate care she received from Drs. Weiner and Thomas and the nurses of the Cancer Treatment Center of St. Peter's Hospital, Dr. Talpaz and the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center and everyone at Hospice of St. Peters.
Carol was preceded in death by her parents, Kermit and Hazel (Larson) Anderson; and her former husband Thomas Lee Judge.
She is survived by her sons, Thomas Warren Judge and Patrick Lane Judge; sister, Shari Pettit; nieces, Allison Carol Pettit and Jennifer Anna Fossum; and nephews, Matthew Anderson Pettit and Edward "Ned" McLean Pettit. She also leaves behind her beloved cat, Frankie Mittens.
The family will receive friends from 4 to 6 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 15, at Retz Funeral Home, 315 E. Sixth Ave., in Helena. A funeral Mass will be held at noon on Tuesday, Dec. 16, at the Cathedral of St. Helena, 530 N. Ewing St., in Helena, with a reception immediately following in the Brondel Center, located in the lower level of the cathedral.
Memorials may be sent to Poor Clares of Montana, 3020 18th Ave. S., Great Falls, MT 59405; Cathedral of St. Helena, 530 N. Ewing St., Helena, MT 59601; God's Love, 533 N. Last Chance Gulch, Helena, MT 59601; Helena Food Share, 1616 Lewis St., Helena, MT 59601; St. Peter's Hospice, 201 S. California, Helena, MT 59601; St. Peter's Cancer Treatment Center, 2475 Broadway, Helena, MT 59601; or a beneficiary of the donor's choice.
Please visit www.retzfuneralhome.com to offer the family a condolence or to share a memory of Carol.