Judy (Gehle) Geistlinger died on January 17 from Alzheimer’s disease. Her life of generosity continued through her last days, when she gave her family gifts of quick smiles and soft kisses. The family is immensely grateful to the staff at Oakwood Village East, whose grace and good humor enabled Judy to maintain her dignity, vitality, and comfort.
Judy lived the first half of her life in the Midwest. She grew up in Chicago, where her family taught her the value of frugality, hard work, and Christian devotion. She studied English and Business at Valparaiso University, and had more fun than a good Lutheran girl was supposed to.
Alphabetical seating at mandatory chapel attendance in the first year of college introduced Judy in 1956 to Jack Geistlinger, a sharp-dressed young man with a twinkle in his eye. Seven years later they married, and were devoted partners through 50 years of joy and trial. They celebrated their golden anniversary with friends and family, and much cake and early-60’s music, in August of 2013.
After college, Judy worked in Chicago at Scott Foresman Publishing Company, while Jack went to seminary and became a Lutheran pastor. After they married, they lived in four different locations in the Midwest while Jack finished school and was the pastor at two churches. Judy took a break from public work for ten years to rear their three children.
In 1975, Judy and Jack put their kids in the back of their Ford Torino station wagon, stuffed the car top carrier full, and drove west to California, where Jack had accepted a position as chaplain at a facility for developmentally disabled adults. Jack and Judy later moved to Napa, California, after Jack took a call to be the pastor at a Lutheran church. They thoroughly enjoyed making new friends and sponsoring an unofficial bed and breakfast inn for family and friends visiting northern California. The couple was fortunate to do their own extensive traveling in their later years, leading “bucket list” tours to Europe and vacationing with friends across the western U.S.
In California, Judy returned to the workplace as a teacher’s assistant and later became a public school secretary and then the supervisor of the clerical division of a county welfare agency. Her can-do attitude, easy humor, and home-made goodies made Judy much-loved among her colleagues.
A lifelong lover of choral music, Judy added her beautiful voice to church choirs throughout her life and was always ready to sing show tunes from her favorite musicals. She felt very blessed to be able to attend choir and symphony concerts and musicals in California.
Judy experienced the heartbreaking loss of close family members, particularly in her later years. She also delighted in being a fun-loving, spirited grandma to her three grandchildren, sharing with them her love of reading and music, and her Christian faith. She played games to win, and corrected her grandkids’ improper usage of English, but her own child-like love of sweets made for a famously lenient position regarding the size and frequency of desserts.
In 2012, Judy and Jack moved to Madison to be closer to their family as Judy’s Alzheimer’s intensified. It has been Judy’s family’s great honor to spend much of her last two years with her after she cared for them and so many other people during her life.
A Memorial Service will be held at the TREE OF LIFE CHAPEL AT OAKWOOD EAST, 5565 Tancho Drive, Madison at 1:30 PM on Monday, January 27, 2014.
For online condolences, please visit, www.gundersonfh.com.
Donations are requested to the Oakwood Foundation, 6201 Mineral Point Road, Madison, WI 53705.
Gunderson West Funeral & Cremation Care
7435 University Ave