A north Georgia couple who died in a plane crash Oct. 26 are remembered in their community for the endless ways they gave back throughout their lives.
Jim and Beth Judson were involved at St. Brigid’s Church in Johns Creek, Ga. — a church they helped to build — and in their community of Roswell.
“Jim and Beth were truly exceptional Catholics,” said Msgr. Joseph Corbett, vicar general of the Archdiocese of Atlanta, who recalled meeting the Judson family in 1998 at the very first St. Brigid’s Sunday Mass on All Saints’ Day.
“They walked up to register, asking what they could do,” said Msgr. Corbett, who was the first pastor of St. Brigid’s, noting the couple went on to become involved in virtually every aspect — from choir to parish council — of the now 3,600-family-member parish.
“It was extremely important to them to be active participants in their faith. Their spiritual life gave them the ability to be extraordinary individuals,” he told Our Sunday Visitor.
Indeed, at the Judsons’ funeral Mass on Nov. 1, Atlanta Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory eulogized them as “deeply religious and proud of their Catholic faith.” He also remembered the couple’s ease and “accessibility” when approached or asked to help with countless volunteer and philanthropic causes.
The accident, attributed to bad weather, took place in Alcorn County, Miss. The couple was returning home in their private plane after watching their daughter, Lauren, a member of the University of Southern Mississippi golf team, play in a tournament. The couple also had a son, Dean.
Originally from New York, Jim Judson, 52, founded the software company Witness Systems Inc. with several partners in 1988. Witness Systems became one of the top call center vendors in the market, and sold for millions in a 2000 initial public offering. Freed up from the office, Jim became a dedicated, involved dad at his children’s school, Blessed Trinity High School, where he often helped coach sports and had served as the announcer for soccer games. He remained active in the business community, serving on a number of boards, and worked with Archbishop Gregory on the archdiocese’s planning committee.
Beth Judson, 51, was a magna cum laude student at Alfred University in New York. A member of the university’s board of trustees since 2002, she remained actively involved in the college while raising two children.
She also helped set up the university’s Women’s Leadership Center (WLC) and was the keynote speaker at the center’s 2006 dedication. In 2009, she opened her home to several Women’s Leadership Academy members while they attended a women’s conference at Georgia Tech (where she had earned a master’s degree and a doctorate, both in ceramic engineering). It was emblematic of her graciousness and involvement, college officials recall.
“She gave her talents, wisdom and encouragement without reservation. A prodigious intellect, Beth was also compassionate and genuinely interested in what was best for students,” said WLC director Julia Overton-Healy.
Dedicated to community
Beth Judson served as a consultant to several ceramic industry/educational groups and traveled to engineering colleges as part of a national accreditation team, but found time to sing in the St. Brigid’s choir and serve as executive director of the Georgia Regional Girls Choir.
Beth Judson had been a board member of the former Southern Catholic College in Dawsonville. “She had internal strength, wisdom overflowing and a big heart,” said fellow board member Jim Eckstein.
While their circumstances could have afforded them a lavish lifestyle, neighbors were quick to point out the couple were content to remain in their Roswell subdivision among the neighbors, friends and parishioners they had known for years. One neighbor told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “I have a millionaire next door. You’d never know it.”
“They were wonderful role models,” said Msgr. Corbett. “They brought their faith — not just to their community here, but to whatever they were involved in. It would get 100 percent of their energy and their commitment. They embraced life to the fullest.”
Amy Bonesteel writes from Georgia.