Judy Kelemen

Judy Kelemen

Judy was an instructor at SUNY Cortland in the department of Speech and Audiology.  Her enthusiasm and love of teaching was unbounded.  She was thoughtful, dedicated and concerned.

Judy and her husband Charles (an instructor at Ithaca College) were returning from a meeting at Ithaca, driving separate cars because of their schedules.  It was about 9pm on a clear March evening when the drunken driver started up Ithaca hill.  This was after an afternoon and evening of hard drinking with his father and brother.  He missed Charles by inches but not so with Judy.  He hit her head on in a devastating crash.  Her husband hurried back to find Judy was already dead. 

Afterward the killer could not even remember driving the car.  He asked for a second chance.  Yet he gave Judy no chance at all. 

Judy’s father, William T. Smith was a New York State Senator in office at the time.  Working with other legislators he began expediting the arduous process of tightening up the law governing driving while intoxicated. 

The following is an excerpt written by two of Judy’s students:  “Judy Kelemen was not all things to all people.  She was the same to all:  honest, candid, loving, tender.  There was nothing artificial about her.  She leveled with all of us.  If at the moment the truths she uttered brought a frown, the next moment, a smile.  From the open door of her office, of her classroom, of her heart and mind flowed the continued concern of a woman who seemed as if she had been born to care”.

Judy, our blithe spirit, is gone and we are left with our tears. 

Senator William T. and Dorothy Smith, Big Flats, NY