Published November 11, 2010
A Roswell couple, James (Jim) W. Judson Jr. and Elizabeth (Beth) A. Judson, active parishioners at St. Brigid Church and parents to Dean and Lauren, were lauded by Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory at a funeral Mass celebrated Monday, Nov. 1, at the church. The couple died on Tuesday, Oct. 26, in a private plane crash while en route to DeKalb Peachtree Airport in Chamblee from Olive Branch, Miss., following an extended family weekend.
Mr. Judson was flying their Beechcraft Bonanza airplane when it unexpectedly lost contact with FAA radar. He was an experienced, instrument-rated pilot.
In his homily at the funeral Mass, Archbishop Gregory said, “Beth and Jim’s witness of faith was categorically courageous and yet always unassuming. … They were deeply religious and proud of their Catholic faith and yet always accessible, thus allowing God to be a part of their every venture with pervasive laughter and joy.”
He said, “They were quite simply fun people, as easy to be with as any cherished relative or friend that we might have ever known.”
Msgr. Joseph Corbett, former pastor at St. Brigid and current vicar general of the archdiocese, remembered the Judsons as “significant individuals” at the vigil service held on Sunday, Oct. 31. In 1998, he was given the task of setting up a new parish on Old Alabama Road, and “Jim, Beth, Dean and Lauren registered with the parish at the very first St. Brigid Sunday Mass—which was celebrated on the feast day of All Saints,” 12 years ago almost to the day. He said that the couple signed up to “build a church they could call their spiritual home; the spiritual home they cherished,” and they became “extraordinary supporters with their time, talents and treasure.”
He added, “No request from me to Beth and Jim was ever turned down. From singing in the choir to serving as chair of the first parish council, to campaigning for funds, to anonymously supporting a project or idea, to fixing my vacuum cleaner or my washing machine—the Judsons were exceptionally supportive individuals.”
Speaking of Jim’s involvement with the church at the archdiocesan level, Msgr. Corbett said that when he was transferred to work with Archbishop Gregory, the couple probably thought they’d have some relief and time to look into other projects.
He said, “Oddly enough, out of the blue they got invited to be cohorts with Archbishop Gregory in his responsibility of managing a growing archdiocese—in particular, working with the strategic planning study (for the archdiocese) and in the area of discipleship.”
At the time of his death, Jim was a mainstay of the archdiocesan Planning Council.
Both Judsons were born in New York and enjoyed long and successful careers. In 1988, along with two friends, Jim co-founded software company Witness Systems, Inc., which became one of the premier call center vendors in the market. He retired from the company shortly after its IPO in 2000, going on to work at other technology start-ups and sit on various boards.
Jim was a member of the board of trustees at Wake Forest University, where he had earned his degree, first serving on the board from 2004-2008 and holding prior positions on its alumni council and Deacon Club Board of Directors. He was a “stay-at-home dad” during his children’s high school years at Blessed Trinity High School, Roswell, and during that time served on many committees, including assisting coaches with their programs.
Beth spent the last 30 years as a homemaker, staying home with her children during their formative years. She had earned a bachelor of science degree in ceramic science and a bachelor of arts degree in mathematics, magna cum laude, from Alfred University, where she was on the board of trustees. She later earned a master of science and a doctorate in ceramic engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Beth served as a consultant to the University-Industry Demonstration Partnership of the National Academies and had been a general manager of a ceramic armor start-up company associated with Georgia Tech. She had 10 years’ industrial experience with Alcoa and several small ceramic businesses in the Atlanta area. She was also a board member for the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In this capacity, she was a part of a team that traveled to many universities to review engineering departments for continuing accreditation.
Beth’s personal interests in her church and higher education led her to participate in the founding of Southern Catholic College, Dawsonville, where she also was a trustee. Beth also sang in the St. Brigid church choir and served as executive director for the Georgia Regional Girls Choir for several years.
Archbishop Gregory said of them, “They loved all of their family members and all others that they met with a genuine devotion that was admirable in so many ways. They loved this parish family of St. Brigid as they saw it develop from its fledgling foundation to its vibrant current community. They loved Catholic education and supported it generously at all levels from primary students to a bold college endeavor.”
He said, “The gift of the Eucharist is always directly connected to the challenge that we face to recognize and respond to the needs and hungers of others. Jim and Beth were sensitive to that challenge, and they did not shy away from reaching out to those in need.”
In addition to their son and daughter, the couple is survived by Beth’s mother, Jim’s father, Beth’s four brothers, and Jim’s two sisters and one brother. At the family’s request, memorial donations can be made to the Society of St. Vincent de Paul at St. Brigid Church.