Judy V.


When I started thinking about this portrait project, I naturally thought about Judy V. She was someone people loved. Beautiful (inside and out). She was also someone I always wanted to get to know better.

But Judy passed away in 2017.

Then it occurred to me, why not find a way to honor her as a total bad ass? I reached out to her husband Roger and we talked about how we could include her.

I sent Roger the questions I've asked every participant, and he tried to answer the questions in Judy's place as best he could.

(Roger in their kitchen with Judy's preserved tattoo)

What’s your story?

Knowing Judy, she’d state that she doesn’t have much of a story and there’s nothing special about her.

Of course, that’s ridiculous.

At her core, Judy loved people and needed to surround herself with friends as often as possible. Her dream was to either have a building in which all of her friends lived or at least a neighborhood in which they all owned homes.

She would talk about how lonely and alone she felt while I was sitting on the couch a few feet away from her, and I understood what she meant. Judy wanted to always be in the company of friends. I wasn’t enough since I was supposed to be there and provide support and companionship as her husband.

Her mission in life was to smile, have fun and make people happy, and to help take away any pain or drama that distracted friends from being able to enjoy themselves.

She also was very skilled and accomplished as a hair stylist, displayed a passion for lifelong learning that belied her struggles in just getting by in high school and she was incredibly creative. That creativity was expressed through the fashion shows she designed for the Mission Boutique and the elaborate decorations prepared for our Halloween parties.

What makes you nervous about getting your portrait taken?

Absolutely nothing would make Judy nervous about getting her portrait taken – she loved being in front (or behind) the camera. However, she would question why anyone would want to take a picture of her and believe that she wasn’t worthy of the attention.

Can I share some of your images?

That would garner an enthusiastic yes.

What do you love doing that makes you feel kick ass?

Judy was proud of the work she put in to transform herself from a Goth queen to a happy camper. She organized and scheduled monthly camping trips, and eagerly learned about how to set up camp, tie various knots, spot different types of wildlife and vegetation and pretty much everything about nature and the outdoors. Sunday mornings were spent watching nature shows.

She trained very hard to prepare herself for the rigors of long hikes in altitude, walking hills in the Metroparks wearing a weighted, 50-pound backpack.

Considering all of this effort, Judy would grudgingly accept being referred to as kick ass for the skills she developed.