Ellsworth Frank Judy

1922 - 2006

Ellsworth F. Judy began his music teaching career in 1948, following completion of a music education degree at San Jose State College, by serving as band, orchestra, and choir director at Sonoma Valley Union High School. The following year he accepted a music position at Lodi Academy in California, where he would teach for four years. While there, he completed an MA in education with a music emphasis at Stanford University.

Because of his success at Lodi, Judy was invited in 1953 to chair the Division of Fine Arts at Atlantic Union College and direct the band and orchestra. During the next nine years he stabilized and strengthened the music department by increasing the size and quality of the faculty, establishing high performance standards and juries, and creating a music education degree. Additionally, he drew on music resources in nearby Boston, using clinicians from there and arranging for AUC music majors to study with members of the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

He strengthened the instrumental program by expanding and at times personally directing the feeder band program in the nearby grade school and academy, and by setting high standards for the college band through his choice of repertoire and performance expectations. A horn player, he both played in and promoted college chamber ensembles. He established an ongoing brass ensemble and woodwind quintet, the latter being a first in Adventist colleges.

In 1962, Judy was invited to direct the band at Rio Lindo Academy, a large new school in Healdsburg, California, with large financial resources. He accepted, excited by the stated goals of the school's founders, the quality of the music facilities and instruments, and the breadth of the feeder programs in that region. While he enjoyed his work there and his ensembles had become known for their excellence, he was intrigued by the challenge of an offer made to him in 1968 to serve as both principal and music teacher at a nearby academy, one he accepted.

The following year, disillusioned by the political reality he had encountered, Judy returned to full-time music teaching, accepting leadership of the band at Glendale Academy, a position he would hold for the next ten years. During those years he band grew from 25 members to an outstanding group of 70 that received highest marks in adjudication events all over Southern California. In 1979, he retired from full-time music teaching.

For the next nine years he worked as buyer and assistant director in Materials Management at Glendale Adventist Medical Center. After another year as buyer for the White Memorial Medical Center in Los Angeles, he retired in 1989.

Following retirement, he again taught music, serving as band director at Pacific Union College Elementary School from 1992-1994 and in the 1996-97 school year. He also taught at Oklahoma Academy in 1997

 Judy was born in Sacramento, California, on July 29, 1922, to Bert and Emma Knecht Judy. When he was ten, his mother died from tuberculosis, leaving his father to raise him and his sister, Catherine. He attended high school in Auburn, California, where he played trumpet in the band and was inspired by the director, Otto Fox, to become a high school band director.

After graduation, he attended Pacific Union College but left after one semester because they did not offer a teaching degree. He continued his study at San Jose State College for a short while before joining the United States Air Force where he served from 1943-1946. During those years he performed in a number of jazz groups.

It was at one of these performances that he met Alice Ruth Tarleton. Following her marriage to him in 1945, she began attending an SDA church and became interested in its beliefs. Having left the church earlier, Judy joined with her in baptism in 1948.

While completing his degree in music education at SJSC, Judy switched to French horn and played in the college's orchestra. Although he had earlier enjoyed his work in jazz, he became an avid promoter and performer of classical music, reveling in its breadth and transcendent qualities.

Throughout his life, Judy promoted and insisted on the highest possible standards in musical achievement, seeing the realization of this goal as an opportunity for ultimate witness to those outside the SDA system. Some of the most satisfying moments in his professional life were when his students, groups, and two daughters, Laura Lynn Koozmin, a flutist, and Peggy Elysee Dewsberry, a clarinetist, were able to witness in this way.

He was living in Calistoga, California, at the time of his death on November 2, 2006, at age 84.


Sources: Interviews with Ellsworth Judy, 13 March 2003 and 2006; Obituary, AUC Today, Atlantic Union College Alumni magazine, 2007; Life Sketch at Memorial Service,12 November 2006; Personal Knowledge.


A Man with Standards

A Tribute to Ellsworth Judy

Dan Shultz

When I first became acquainted with Ellsworth Judy during the years he taught at Atlantic Union College, he was an intense man, driven by his idealism and a quest for perfection in all areas of performance. Enthusiastic and ambitious by nature, he held high standards and was determined to help his faculty, students, and his ensembles achieve them.

While at times this was intimidating and created tension, in the end students learned and grew while attempting to meet his expectations. Whether it was the band mastering the latest in contemporary music, students striving to develop proficiency in conducting or in playing an instrument, or a woodwind quintet rehearsing Mozart at 7 a.m., a particularly joyous experience for him, in the end, the process made one stronger and better able to go out and function as a professional - with a desire to also achieve at the highest possible level.

And Judy was very human. When in his quest for excellence, he would become frustrated and the result would be an uncomfortable moment for everyone, he would make it right. He knew he was not perfect and would let us know of his regret and of his resolve not to let it happen again. He encouraged prospective teachers as they prepared to enter the profession to also acknowledge mistakes in a timely way if they offended a student or group.

Where his students were concerned, Judy was interested in more than just their professional development. He took a real interest in other aspects of their lives also. Whether they were dating, getting engaged and married, or having a first child, he was aware of and maybe kidding them about it, but also cheering them on. And if they had a noteworthy success, he not only was there affirming them but, on some occasions, quietly writing a letter to their parents about it.

As I prepared to leave AUC, he helped me land that first job, and then as I began my career, became a cheerleader as my career unfolded. That professional relationship became a deepening friendship over the years as we shared life via letters and tapes. Today, we are both retired and good friends, each now enjoying retirement and sharing that experience via an occasional phone or e-mail exchange.

It is a time of reflection for me on the way my life and career unfolded. And it is from that perspective that I now look back and am grateful that a teacher like Ellsworth Judy was there at a critical time to give me the skills I needed and a vision for what I might become as a music teacher.