Judy was a master quilter. She stitched elaborate, creative works of art for family and friends. She made tiny, perfect stitches by hand that held the carefully chosen fabrics and lovely designs in place. She saw people the same way she saw the fabrics she worked with and lovingly stitched lives together into beautiful patterns.
Judy was born in Fort Lauderdale, Florida on November 24, 1955 to John and Jeanette Senning, the middle child of three. Judy grew up in Pasadena and graduated from John Muir High School in 1973. She loved the family dog, Julep, and played endlessly with her older sister Jill and her younger brother John in their backyard. Judy and Jill were dedicated campfire girls and they attended many summer camps together. She took piano lessons throughout her childhood and became quite proficient by the time she was an adult.
Judy received her bachelor’s degree from UC San Diego and earned her master’s degree and school psychologist credential at California State University Long Beach.
Judy married Willie Brown, her great love, on August 19, 1978. They lived in Costa Mesa, Irvine, San Jose, and Half Moon Bay before finally moving to Santa Barbara in 1988. Santa Barbara was the place she was proud to call home for the last 30 years and she gratefully expressed this on her license plate, which read “SB4LIFE”. Judy and Willie had three sons, Russell, Elliott, and Garrett. Judy described being the mother of the boys as the proudest and most important accomplishment of her life.
As an educator in the schools for 37 years, Judy brought her positive and robust energy to her work. She began her career as a school psychologist, expanding the role into an inclusion specialist, and eventually finding her greatest joy as the creator of the Learning Tree, an inclusion preschool that provided space for three and four year old children to flourish. The concept of inclusion was part of the fabric of Judy’s life, and the Learning Tree was the culmination of this passion.
Judy’s compassion and deep respect for the lives of children was at the core of every decision she made. Many children, families, and teachers are deeply grateful for her work.
Judy brought her friends and family into each others’ lives and the circles of her existence were infinitely interwoven. Her love, compassion, energy, and intelligence went into everything she touched. She was always looking to explore and expand possibilities to create the best outcome. Her family, friends, and colleagues were given the gift of her caring attention to detail and deep connection, and she is greatly missed.
Judy waged a fierce battle against pancreatic cancer for over a year and a half. She passed away surrounded by her loving family on March 11, 2018.
Judy is survived by her husband Willie Brown of Santa Barbara, her mother Jeannette Senning and her sister Jill Ellis both of Denver, Colorado, her brother John Senning Jr. of Eustis, Florida, her sons Russell Brown of Santa Barbara, Garrett Brown and Elliott Brown of Washington DC, her daughter-in-law Sofie Brown of Washington DC, her uncle Thomas Senning Sr. and her aunt Priscilla Senning both of Santa Barbara. Judy is also survived by many relatives, friends, and colleagues.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests any donations be made to The Ridley Tree Cancer Center, Santa Barbara.