A Tribute to Judy Rock

by Carolyn Locke for The Maine Eagle Magazine

 Judith Goodell Rock, a long-time resident of Troy, died in her home on December 17, 2012. Her greatest wish, to be surrounded by family and friends at her death, was granted, and on Thursday, December 20, her body was laid to rest on her beloved Blue Heron Farm with a celebration of her life in song and heartfelt words. A vital member of the community, Judy was an extraordinary woman who will be greatly missed by many.

 Over the years, Judy served the town of Troy in several capacities. Jan Cropley, former Town Clerk and Secretary to the Selectmen, said that as selectman, Judy was thorough and knowledgeable, did her research when it was necessary, and made sure the selectmen were doing what was best for the town. Judy was also a member of the road committee, planning board, comprehensive plan committee, and a charter member of the Troy Historical Society. She was active in the Troy Union Church, teaching Sunday school and participating in fund-raising for the steeple restoration project. She was also instrumental in obtaining the grant for the town sand and salt shed, and helped organize Troy Field Days. She served as moderator for town meetings, and neighbor Lorren Thurston says, ” Troy town meetings will never be the same. I always knew she would be there to speak her mind and stand up for the things she felt strongly about—the environment, her town, her neighbors, and those who were in need.”

 Judy’s service extended to the larger community of Waldo County as well. In the early 1970’s, she helped found and volunteered as a parent at the Strawberry Fields School in Thorndike. In the 1980’s, Judy sang with the Gilbert and Sullivan group, Popular Opera of Pittsfield. She worked at the Unity Co-op and was an early supporter of the Waldo Community Development Federal Credit Union established in 1996. For a period of time, she was an adjunct instructor of developmental reading and composition at Unity College. In addition, she volunteered with the Unity Regional Recycling Center and the Kennebec Valley Council of Governments, and energized the Unity Farmer’s Market with committed enthusiasm and her renowned culinary skills.

 She was also an important member of the Pen Bay Singers, first singing with them in 1990, and serving as president from 1998 to 2000 and 2005 to 2008. As their “fundraising chair, chief cheerleader, and rabble rouser,” says current president Syrena Gatewood, “Judy took it upon herself to establish the Pen Bay Singers as a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization” and to set up several collaborative concerts with the Mount View High School Chamber Singers.

 Perhaps after her family, children, and friends, stewardship of the land was dearest to Judy’s heart. As a volunteer for Sebasticook Regional Land Trust, she traveled to various spots around the watershed and wrote lively and informative articles for the newsletter. Judy and her husband David, who died in 2005, lived on Blue Heron Farm on the Whittaker Road, where every trail has been marked for logging and every inch carefully catalogued and tended. In the months before she died, Judy made arrangements to ensure that the land was protected as a working farm and forest, donating an agricultural easement to the Sebasticook Regional Land Trust and 30 acres of woodland to the New England Forestry Foundation as the David A. Rock Memorial Forest. Sandy Olson, a fellow volunteer for the SRLT and friend, says of Judy and Dave: “Everything in their lives was intentional.”

 Those who knew Judy have fond memories of her as a friend, neighbor, and community member. Wini Noyes says that Judy “loved all water, especially swamps, called to seagulls, sang to bluebirds, and knew about shrubs, wildflowers, and weeds. She saw the relationship between unconnected things and events, and loved to plan anything.”  Judy once said of herself: “I can harmonize with anything.” Remembering, Wini says, “And she did.”  Lorren Thurston describes Judy as “someone who was always there for me, someone I knew I could depend on for any need,” and she fondly recalls pot luck get-togethers, sing-alongs, and barn dances at Judy’s house. Elizabeth Radliff remembers Judy’s spark and warmth and the things she created with her hands—a quilt for daughter Jenny, botanical drawings and sketches from New Zealand, and little sheep made from raw wool.

Judy was a self-described “cockeyed optimist” and a consummate storyteller who, to   quote Sandy Olson, “lived this life with strength, intention, intelligence, and determination,” as well as enormous love. In a last e-mail to friends and family, Judy wrote, “I’m not looking forward to dying any time soon, but am wrapping my mind around several ideas to make the adventure more palatable—one of which is the marvelous thought that I could truly be recycled both in spirit (spark of life) and body. I like that a lot.” She will certainly live on in the hearts and minds of many in the Waldo County community and beyond.

With special permission from The Maine Eagle Magazine © January 2013