Wednesday, July 2, 2008

In Memory of Judith Zitter

Judith Zitter died today. I first met her shortly after I started working at City Hall in early 1991. I was the public information officer, of course, and she was field representative to then City Councilman Rick Cole.

I bonded quickly with all of the field reps, but there was a certain difficult period I went through with my job a few months after I started working here when Judith showed me an abundance of support and friendship that really helped get me through the tough times. I have never, ever forgotten that. She rallied to the point that I wanted to stick it out.

When Rick left elected office, Judith put her degree in social work to great use and took a job at Kaiser Permanente on Walnut, where she worked for many years.

I don't remember exactly when Judith was diagnosed with cancer, but it was probably 15 years ago or so. Her long, flowing hair was no more, and for the rest of her life it was short and sassy!

She was in and out of remission. And in and out and in and out. Through it all, she had the love and support of her family and friends.

She didn't let the disease define her life. She never let it diminish who she was. She never let it get in the way of being Judith.

I was very blessed to be included in some intimate dinners over the past few months with a few of the former field reps from the 1990s, Judith among them. She was weak and in a wheelchair, and needed a lot of assistance, but she was in high spirits and was gabbing it up and laughing with the rest of us. From the Athenaeum in December to Saladang last month, she lit up the room and enjoyed our company as much as we enjoyed hers.

Here we are at the Athenaeum. That's Judith seated in middle with the mauve scarf around her neck. (Many thanks to Rita Moreno, who was behind the camera and provided me with this photo.)

Judith was honored in May at the Westin by Community Health Alliance of Pasadena (CHAP), and she looked beautiful and vibrant and had a great big fancy hat on. Rick Cole was there to join in the festivities, which was nice.

She met her husband, Neal Wrightson, when they were students at Blair. Their bright and talented children, Erica and Max, were her top priorities.

Judith was generous with her time, serving on many non-profit boards over the years including Day One and El Centro de Acción Sociál.

She was one extraordinary woman.


Lisa said...

Thank you for this. I am deeply saddened by Judith's death.
Elisa Crystal Callow

West Coast Grrlie Blather said...

Thanks for this tribute to Judith. She will be sorely missed.

Petrea said...

I didn't know her, Ann. Your tribute makes me with I had.

Anonymous said...

Ann, yes you're now set to receive communication from the rest of your public subjects now!

I can now comment on your friend Judy. It's weird in that I feel so happy, yet I'm gonna comment on the saddest topic...
Each time I hear someone has cancer, it sadden me. And, I think of my mom who died from cervical cancer.
My experience with remission is just the cancer cells going into hiding while under medical attack--only to regroup and come back stronger than ever.
But, cancer & heart disease (our 2 main killers) are mostly food diseases--what we put in our body can either kill us immediately or very slowly over time
For my mothers sake, I wish I knew then what I know now.
Sad to hear of the passing of another good person from this life.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for putting into words what so many feel. The loss felt is profound. Judith's ability to put others needs in front of her own is an example to all. She will live forever in my heart. Val Meyer Nixon( college roomate and so greatful to be included amoung her friends)

Anonymous said...

Annie, Thanks for your beautiful memorial to Judith. The Field Reps and Mr. Erdman have always shared a special bond which we all treasure...its a sisterhood really.

Having dinner, lunch or breakfast with Judith on a semi-regular basis was a treat for us all. Being together was important...there were lots of laughs, political comments and "gossip". Judith never ceased to amaze..and to see her laugh made us all feel very good.

Rest in Peace dear friend..WE LOVE YOU.

Rita Elshout