The Video Club extends its condolences to the family and friends of club member and Village resident Judy Saxon, who passed away at home on June 7 after several hospitalizations for a stroke she suffered on April 23. Judy collapsed in her manor while on Zoom, having just completed recording an episode of the “Write Now” show, a Village Television series of interviews with local authors and other creatives. She and club member Charlie Redner co-hosted the show for over 10 years.
The April 23 interview was with Canadian actress and writer Henriette Ivanans, author of In Pillness and in Health: A Memoir. The episode is is available on YouTube and is airing Sundays at 12:30 am, Mondays at 11 am, and Fridays at 10:30 am on Village Television during June. Additional “Write Now” shows may also be found on the Village Television YouTube channel.
As recalled by Judy’s friend Kevin Cronin, who saw her through her recent crisis, faithfully keeping her friends informed, “(This is) the story of Judy the trouper and the show business adage: no matter what happens, the show must go on! … The studio starts recording promptly at 10 am and shortly thereafter Judy began feeling an unusual sensation in her left hand. Watching you’ll notice she’s increasingly leaning to the left. She participated but was less vocal than usual and just as the show was ending with the cameras still rolling, she fell off her chair. By then her entire left side was well on its way to being paralyzed. She was fully conscious and cogent but was unable to get up. … with filming continuing, those in the studio saw this and called 911.”
During 2019, Judy was one of two interviewers for the Village Centenarian Project. She is shown above interviewing Gerda Hight. Conducted by the Video Club and co-sponsored by the Camera Club and Thrive Task Force, the Centenarian Project explored the lives of 16 Village residents over the age of 100 and featured matching portraits of each, as a young person and at their current age. The Centenarian videos, including Judy’s interviews, are available on YouTube.
On December 4, 2020, Judy was profiled in the Orange County Register about the “Write Now” show and about her life. She was born in Hinsdale, Illinois, spent most of her growing up years in Shorewood, Wisconsin, a suburb of Milwaukee, and graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, majoring in social work.
Married in 1963, Judy and her husband lived in Pacific Palisades and worked together in a gift show business he had started. They later divorced. After renting a condo in Laguna Woods Village part-time in the 1990s, she moved here in 2001.
“I was thinking I would only be here temporarily,” Judy told the Register. “I would go back and forth. Once here, I was having such a wonderful time and participating in various activities, I sold my home in Pacific Palisades…and purchased a home (in the Village).” She participated in Theatre Guild productions, including Sondheim’s Follies, and played pickle and paddle ball and duplicate bridge. Judy also enjoyed writing and earlier had some short stories published. She had recently finished the first draft of a novel.
Judy’s nephew, John Shepherd, who came here from Oregon to attend to her affairs, observed, “We will all dearly miss her warmth and unique laugh. More like a satisfied chuckle. Judy had such a unique way about her, didn’t she? Half princess/half actress. Growing up as her nephew, she always reminded me of Julie Andrews. I hope that God gives her a time slot in heaven to interview authors such as Mark Twain, Emily Dickinson, and Ernest Hemingway. Wouldn’t that be something! … She requested cremation. I will scatter her ashes with those of her brother (my dad) on our ranch here in Oregon.”
Charlie Redner recalled Judy as “beautiful inside and out with a charming personality,” and stated that a video tribute to Judy is tentatively planned for July.