Judee K. Kelly, 66, of Stone Street, Watertown, peacefully slipped away on Friday, November 19, 2021 while sleeping at her home after fighting a long, courageous battle with cancer.
Judee was born September 27, 1955 in St. Ignace, MI, daughter of Maynard and Ruby (Sanford) Wiertalla. She graduated from Pellston High School in Pellston, MI in 1973 where she played tenor saxophone, and had many treasured friends.
Judee went on to become a respiratory therapist for various agencies, first taking a job that helped establish respiratory therapy departments at hospitals across the nation, then at Mercy Hospital of Watertown until it closed.
She then decided to move into social work and was employed by Cornell Cooperative Extension as a Nutrition Educator for the local and surrounding communities for many years. She excelled at providing education, connection, and support to those at risk for hunger or malnutrition in Northern NY.
This social work led her to become employed at Ft. Drum for the Army Community Services (ACS), as a Financial Counselor. In 2018, she retired as the Financial Readiness Program Manager at Ft. Drum after years of service to thousands of military personnel and families- both stateside and then abroad at Hohenfels, United States Army Garrison (USAG) Bavaria, Germany.
Judee Kelly treated people as if all were important and valuable. She imparted these lessons to her friends, peers, and family as well, often reminding others to “walk in someone else’s shoes” before coming to any conclusions about them. Her empathy, care, and compassion will be long remembered by the many lives she has touched. These qualities and her devotion to her patients, clients, and life’s work earned her many accolades throughout her career, including the Department of the ARMY Commander’s Award for Civilian Service.
On April 17, 1994 Judee married Robert (Bobby) J. Kelly, Jr. in Brownville, NY. They spent many years as loving companions and best friends until his passing in 2017 after fighting a brief but aggressive battle with ALS. Judee spent the remainder of her time on Earth missing her husband. It is with great comfort that her family knows that Bobby and Judee are reunited again- without any more pain, eternally together, at peace.
Ms. Judee Kelly is survived by her cherished daughter Laura Rachel Lofdahl, three beloved grandchildren, Megan Simone, Jasmine Lilah, and Cameron Keith, many nieces and nephews, cousins, friends, and loved ones. Both of her parents and all of her siblings preceded her in death. Her passing is the end of an era to those that loved and knew her.
Judee was always a hard worker, but she was equally a great lover of life and play. Before her illness, she could be found fly fishing for trout, camping, exploring, canoeing, hiking, enjoying concerts, restaurants and making her family special meals, all while cracking jokes.
Her ready smile and welcoming ways will live on through her daughter and grandchildren. She taught us to always try to leave something better than you found it. We are grateful that is how she left us. Better. Better children, partners, parents, friends, and community members. She will be sorely missed until we meet again.
There will be no calling hours or funeral at this time. A Celebration of Life will be held in the spring of 2022.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made in Judee’s name to the St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital at https://www.stjude.org/donate/donate-to-st-jude.html. Online condolences may be made to www.dlcalarco.com.