Cover photo for Judy Ashburn's Obituary
Judy Ashburn Profile Photo

Judy Ashburn

1948 — February 1, 2023

Judy Gale Ashburn November 9, 1948 – February 1, 2023 The Chorus of Angels gained a new member just as the sun passed the horizon on Wednesday evening. Judy Gale Ashburn sang her final note, and she did so as she has done throughout her life – with incomparable strength and with perfect pitch. Judy was born in Nashville, TN on November 9th, 1948, to Jimmy and Ann Brown, and she had one older brother, Ronnie. Early on in her life, it was clear that Judy had been given a special gift. Music was a language that she spoke fluently from a young age, and ultimately it became the surround sound of Judy’s life journey. Family and Faith were the pillars upon which her life was built, but the music in Judy’s life was played legato, tying everything together into a sweet symphony that played out one verse, one movement, at a time…… The first movement of Judy’s Life Symphony was her childhood. She was the apple of her parents’ eye, and she was especially close to her grandmother, the late Viola Lawrence who she called “Mommy”. She went to school in Cookeville, TN but rode the Greyhound to Nashville as often as possible to see Mommy. To fuel her gift, Judy took piano lessons and voice lessons throughout her younger years, and she sang in church and in recitals - quickly making a name for herself as someone with an exceptional voice. While singing in the church choir she met a fellow who sang bass, and they quickly realized they sang in unique harmony. That young man was her future husband, Tom – known as Tommy in those days. Towards the end of the 1st movement, the music reaches a crescendo. Judy falls in love with Tommy, and subsequently gains acceptance to Juilliard, the renowned music school in New York. The music begins to play pianissimo, very softly, as Judy is faced with a life changing dilemma – Julliard or family. Judy’s choice was consistent with what she did throughout her life - she leaned on her life’s pillars, Family and Faith, and chose to marry Tom and begin their life together. Movement Two of Judy’s Symphony began with her wedding to Tom on June 4th, 1966, and then the birth of their first child, Chris, two years later. Chris was his mother’s son, but without the musical talent. Ironically, though, he inherited her “not-so-musical traits” – stubbornness and self-confidence. Soon after, Tom was sent to Vietnam leaving Judy and Chris to find their own harmony. Upon Tom’s return, they quickly had their second child, Jeff. Jeff inherited Judy’s softer side – mellow and laid back. Judy always said Jeff had “a heart of gold”. Lastly, the baby of the family, Jennifer, was born in 1975. While Judy and Jennifer were different, they developed a symbiotic relationship like a cello and violin – each with a different tone and pitch, but when combined, the sweet music that resulted from their relationship was simply perfection. The music’s tempo picked up in Movement Three. Raising three kids while trying to break into the music business in Nashville resulted in the pace becoming more and more allegro. Once again, though, Judy leaned on her two pillars of Family and Faith and made the decision to move to Texas where Tom had a great job opportunity, bringing a caesura, or pause, to her music career. During this time of her life, Judy loved playing softball, where she was a darn good pitcher. She owned a Dairy Queen where she served up Dilly Bars, Dairy Dips, and what they called a “Country Basket” in those days. She loved water sports – boating, water skiing, and had a catamaran. At her core, Judy was uber-competitive – it didn’t matter the game, but she especially loved a raucous evening playing cards – particularly Rook and Spades. Later, when the family moved to Missouri, Judy got into horses, bought a few, and spent a lot of time on horseback checking out the Missouri landscape. But all the while, this movement of her symphony was connected by the music she made in church. She loved the teamwork of a choir, but her voice always stood out. Even when she tried to sing diminuendo, or softy, her voice was too strong to contain. Judy was born to be out front so that she could share her gift with others – and oh what a sweet gift it was. That gift shaped many of her children’s first memories and left an indelible image in their soul. Whether it was a powerful solo, singing in a quartet where Tom sang bass, or just belting out “Happy Birthday” to a family member – when Judy sang, it moved you. Some of the family’s favorites include her singing ““I’ll Fly Away”, “Just a Closer Walk with Thee”, and “I’ll Walk with God”. While Judy’s Symphony slowed to adagietto during the final movement, it didn’t slow much. The last part of her life started in Florida where she loved spending time at the beach. Judy’s Mom joined her and Tom, and to get closer to their kids, they all moved to Missouri where she found a new church home and continued to move people with her angelic voice. During this time, she and Tom became grandparents, and she got great enjoyment watching her grandchildren participate in all kinds of sports and activities. While the two loves of Judy’s life were Jesus and her Family, a very close third was her motorhome. She loved that RV like a fourth child. Florida, Arizona, and Texas were favorite winter destinations for her, Tom, and Ann, and she also loved to camp at a good gospel or bluegrass music festival anywhere in the Midwest. During this time, Judy was diagnosed with bladder cancer. For over ten years, Judy fought it. Her strength, her faith, and her will to live were never more evident than during her long and painful battle, and as she always did, she leaned on her music for comfort. Acknowledging her mortality, she chose to create a gift for her family so that she could leave a long-lasting legacy of music. While undergoing treatment, Judy recorded a Christmas album that will keep her gift alive forever. Even though she was weak and scarred from her fight, you’d never know it when you hear her sing “O Holy Night”. As Judy’s transition approached, the music became morendo – it began to fade and die away – but Judy’s strength and fortitude never faded with it. Judy ultimately lost her life, but she didn’t lose - She Lived - Until she sang the last note and the music finally stopped. Judy is survived by her Mother, Ann Cron; her beloved husband of 56 years, Tom; their three children, Chris (Anna) Ashburn of Hallsville, Jeff (Amy) Ashburn of Antlers, OK, and Jennifer (Byron) Fisher of St. Charles, MO; 7 grandchildren and 1 great-grandchild. Judy was preceded in death by her father, Jimmy Brown, her grandmother Viola Lawrence, and her brother Ronnie Brown. While the music Judy made on earth may have come to end, the impact that she and her music made on so many will live forever. Dick Clark said, “Music is the Soundtrack of Your Life”, and Judy provided the music for the soundtrack of her family and countless others. She sang it, she played it, she lived it. There is no doubt that she is singing now amongst the Angels, and knowing her – she is out front……… Sing Loud Judy Gale, Sing Loud. Go Sing High on the Mountain. May it echo in my Soul Angels singing in Harmony Adorned in celestial robes of gold. Go Sing for your Heavenly Father. Find peace in our Lord Above. Your pain is gone forever Held in His embrace and eternal love. Go Sing until we meet again We are here but a moment; or so it seems. Gone but never forgotten. We’ll hear you singing in our Dreams.

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