Remembering Judy Wiley, the puckish half of one of Morristown’s great civic duos

Judy Wiley, recently, in her Vermont home. Photo courtesy of the family.
Judy Wiley, recently, in her Vermont home. Photo courtesy of the family.
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Steve and Judy Wiley in Vermont, 2014. Photo courtesy of the family.
Steve and Judy Wiley in Vermont, 2014. Photo courtesy of the family.

Editor’s note: They say that behind every great man is a great woman. Judy Wiley, who died last weekend at 83 from cancer, preferred the background when her late husband, Stephen B. Wiley, was becoming a civic institution in Morristown.  Yet “she was probably the smartest person I ever knew,” said her daughter, Kate Laud, who remembered her mom as a New Englander who chose her words carefully–often with devastating humor.  A gifted artist, Judy helped start co-op galleries in Madison and Morristown, was active in the Morristown Unitarian Fellowship, and could speak with authority about every movie star from Laurence Olivier to Emma Stone. “She kept well informed,” her daughter said. “She was never wrong.”

Judith Alexander Wiley

Judy Wiley died peacefully at the Respite House in Colchester, VT, on March 11, 2017. She is survived by her three children, Jonathan Wiley of South Londonderry, Katharine Laud of Shelburne and Benjamin Wiley of Singapore; and by her grandchildren, Matthew Laud, Charlie Laud, Caleb Wiley, Martha Laud and Rhiannon Wiley.

Judy Wiley, recently, in her Vermont home. Photo courtesy of the family.
Judy Wiley, recently, in her Vermont home. Photo courtesy of the family.

Her parents, Laura Philbrick Bliss Alexander and Robert Burton Alexander predeceased her, as did her husband of 62 years, Stephen Bradford Wiley; a child, Matthew Wiley; and her sister, Jean Alexander Kemeny.

Judy was born in 1934 in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, the younger of two children, and attended Cape Elizabeth schools.

She worked as an actress at the Ogunquit Summer Theater and later attended Antioch College in Ohio. She graduated from Drew University in Madison, NJ, in 1974 with a degree in Art History.

Judy was an artist and encouraged those around her to really see things. She made art and sculptural furniture using dyed paper and etched metals. She was a founder of the cooperative art gallery Artshowcase in Madison and Morristown, NJ.

Judy was also a great judge of color, design and beauty. An excellent mixer of paint colors, Judy never failed to consider the harmony of hue, line and design in her environment.

Judy Wiley with her grandson, Charlie Laud, in 2016. Photo courtesy of the family.
Judy Wiley with her grandson, Charlie Laud, in 2016. Photo courtesy of the family.

Judy was known to her friends and family as a great conversationalist. She and Steve hosted dinner parties that will be remembered for their passionate discussions, inventive cuisine and laughter into the wee hours.

She was witty and puckish. An avid reader of The New York Times, Judy was current on literature, film and politics, always eager to share her take on Pulitzer Prize winners and Oscar nominees.

She provided a huge support to Steve’s vocation and avocations, touring with him through New Jersey while he campaigned for elected office, providing gentle feedback on his poetry and making a beautiful home for their family and friends.

She was a generous person, serene and beautiful until her last day.

A pretty woman
Dressed in white
Resting in the afternoon shade
Of an Eastern Cottonwood
A breeze whispering off the lake
A paperback novel facedown in her lap

A Tibetan spaniel sleeping at her feet.

Poem by Stephen B. Wiley

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that you consider a gift to the South Hero Community Library at 75 South St. in South Hero, VT 05486.

Judy and Steve Wiley with their children Kate, Jon, Ben and grandchildren Caleb Wiley and Maisie Laud. Photo courtesy of the family.
Judy and Steve Wiley, on left, with their children
Kate, Jon, Ben and grandchildren Caleb Wiley and Maisie Laud. Photo courtesy of the family.

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4 COMMENTS

  1. A very special couple. They helped make Morristown the special place it is today. Without them,our school system, the Green and the Mayo Theater, as they are today, would not exist. Their example of civil behavior always earned our respect.

  2. Since Steve was the Senator and my husband, Gordon MacInnes were in the legislature at the same time, stunningly democrats from Morris County, Judy and spent a lot of time together, watching them work. I could not have asked for better company.

  3. Those Steve engaged through the community, Judy amazed with her art. They are the kind of couple that made our area welcoming to all. They are both missed.

  4. Thank you for sharing such a beautiful tribute to a daughter, sister, wife, mother, grandmother, and artist. I did not have the honor of knowing Judy, yet I feel her spirit is still alive and well in the hearts of all she loves and who love her. You see, Judy’s life didn’t end, it merely changed, she is forever a present and inspiring part of your lives, and through your tribute, now of mine. May you continue to feel her presence. Thank you and + Bless you.

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