Sunday, April 21, 2024

Judy Roehr

| December 13, 2020 1:00 AM

Judy’s spirit slipped free from its earthly tethers after three years of thumbing her nose at pancreatic cancer. She wore her F*ck Cancer T-shirt till the end, and stayed with us long enough to see her orange nemesis voted out of the White House.

She is survived by her daughters, Kelsi Roehr and Keegan Roehr; her son-in-laws, Jonathan White and Elad Marish; her six grandchildren: Eden, Miette, Lila, Leland, Lev and Juniper; her brother, Tom Hamon; her sister-in-law, Pat Hamon; and the father of her children, Bill Roehr.

Her generous and compassionate heart led her to a career helping others, first in social work and later as a high school guidance counselor. Like Mark Twain, she believed that "travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness." As a liaison for foreign exchange students at Bear River High School, she provided nurturing support for teens during their time abroad.

After retirement Judy traveled to the U.K., Europe, China and Central America. It was her goal to become fluent in Spanish and she was determined to practice it whenever the opportunity presented itself (although this may have been a pretext to go to Mexican restaurants more often, we can't say for sure).

She was adventurous, undaunted and independent. After retirement she relocated from northern California to north Idaho. The move reflected her indefatigable optimism, a quality that helped her face pancreatic cancer treatment with humor and an upbeat attitude after her cancer diagnosis in 2017. She moved for the beautiful scenery and skiing, and found new friendships and adventures in this community.

In her 15 years in Coeur d'Alene she volunteered at Habitat for Humanity, at the library, the local chapters of the Democratic party and the Sierra Club, and at the NIC theatre. She also used that time to turn her beloved home into a shrine to whimsy, painted in an irreverent shade of purple. A carefree wildland replaced the front lawn, and her backyard became an ecosystem of wind chimes, kinetic sculpture and follies.

She loved thunderstorms, tap dancing and puttering in the garden. She adored the flavor of garlic so much she would have worn it as a perfume if they made it. She loved to laugh, frequently at her own jokes, and had a song for every occasion, often from a musical (Julie Andrews and Rogers & Hammerstein features were favorites).

She would sometimes describe herself as a “Pollyanna” with her unfailing optimism, but it’s just as true to say she resembled Pippi Longstocking, the unconventional and imaginative heroine who lived alone and did exactly as she pleased. Like Pippi, Judy was a great “thing finder.” She never tossed anything that might be useful, so if you’re in need of any cookbooks from the ‘70s, cobalt blue glassware (she insists it be kept together as a collection!), or a 50-year-old electric can opener that still works, please BYO U-Haul by sometime next spring. This is purely to prevent her daughters, as she sheepishly told them she feared, from “killing her a second time after she’s dead” when they are left to sort through her vast array of treasures.

Many thanks to Beacon Cancer Center and Dr. Bartels’ wonderful oncology team for their warm and competent care, and especially to her incredible friends and neighbors (Sherrill, North 11th Street squad, looking at you) who went above and beyond to help her stay happily independent in her own home for as long as possible. You are amazing. Thank you.

Due to COVID, Judy's memorial cannot take place in person but can be found online at In lieu of flowers, please help us honor her memory by eating a batch of gooey, walnut-laced brownies straight out of the pan (her mama’s recipe is posted on the memorial website). Or, if you insist on parting with money instead of dietary scruples, then consider a donation to help orphaned elephants at the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust or to Idaho PBS, two causes dear to her heart.