Judie SmithFebruary 24, 1946 ~ July 24, 2017 (age 71)
Judie Smith was born in Price, Utah on February 24, 1946 to Willard & Myrtle McPhee. When she was 9 months old her dad was killed by a train accident. For a few years she and her mom traveled around the US and to Chicago, where Judie and Myrtle met Judie’s adopted dad, Robert Emmett Peabody Murphy. Myrtle was soon to be Mrs. Myrtle Murphy. When Judie was about 14 years old, Robert adopted her, and she became one with the Murphy clan.
As Judie was growing up she was always interested in dance, and as a result, excelled to being the lead in ‘ South Pacific’, ‘West Side Story’ and ‘Sianara’ to name a few. She and the “Aloha Nani Dancers” traveled and performed for the 5th Army USO, all around the western United States.
Judie was a cheerleader, captain of the swim team and others during her high school years. When Judie was a junior in high school, she jumped up with the other cheerleaders to lead a cheer at a football game and no sound came out. After nearly a year, the feeling and her voice came back. A year later her legs gave out, and she was paralyzed from the waist down and told she would not walk again. Later that year she was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and told she would be in a wheel chair from then on.
Judie, not being one to be told what to do, vowed to teach dance and walk again. For nearly two years she worked at getting movement back and taught Hawaiian and Tahitian dance from her wheelchair. Then one day she screamed from her bed for her mom to come in. When Myrtle ran in she found Judie with her feet uncovered, and she was making her big toe move. A large party ensued and Judie worked even harder to move more of her feet. As the months went by, she was able to climb into her wheelchair. Judie would have her mom help her outside to enjoy the sun and fresh air. When Myrtle went back inside, Judie would wheel around the corner at the garage and crawl out of the chair and around behind it to pull herself into a standing position enough to push the wheelchair down the sidewalk and eventually around the block. To the cheers of the neighbors, I’m sure.
Judie was not able to graduate with her class, so she was given her diploma later without the ceremony. As her walking skills increased, she was able to attend San Jose State College for a year. Judie got a job at San Jose Water Works in the office credit department. There, she learned to operate a PBX telephone machine and honed her clerical skills.
In 1967 Merrill Smith had moved from Montana to San Jose and graduated as a Land Surveyor and Civil Engineer and was hired to work at San Jose Water Works engineering department. One day his instrument man asked him, “Why don’t you ask out Judie Murphy?” Merrill asked, “Who’s that?”, and was told, “That’s her walking across the parking lot.” Merrill went to the door of the building and said, “I understand your name is Murphy, it seems we should spend St. Patty’s Day together.” Judie said, “I’d love to”, and the rest is history.
They went on a picnic and a hike in the mountains and then she had a date with her ex-fiancé that night. Merrill and Judie went on another picnic with Merrill’s friends in their Jeep the next day and were never apart again until 8PM on July 24, 2016.
During their marriage, Judie and Merrill had many adventures. For example, in 1970 they found a house they liked and were able to buy. That same year Merrill decided to go into business for himself and opened a car repair shop (KRE Foreign Car) and Judie was pregnant with their son Aaron. They made it through that year on $3,765.00. When you have a dream there is nothing that can stop it.
In the next three years, Judie taught Hawaiian & Tahitian dance at the YWCA and then at Expo ‘74. They met Jodette, a belly dancer from Jordan. She asked Judie if she would like to learn Middle Eastern dance, and of course, Judie said YES. As a result of that meeting, Judie opened her very own dance studio in the Garland District in Spokane teaching Binti, Bellahy and Belly dancing along with Hawaiian and Tahitian. The “Shajax Bruch Dancers” was the troupe she organized and they entertained all over the area and on the Neighbor Days at Riverfront Park.
In 1974 Judie and Merrill entertained a young girl singer, Marie of “Up with People” who were performing at Expo ‘74. They decided to take a drive and show her the countryside. On that drive they found themselves on a dirt country road at the top of a mountain. Along the side of the road was a sign, “20 Acres for Sale” and a phone number, so they got out and looked at the property. From the highest shelf they could see for hundreds of miles. They wrote down the number, and when they arrived home on Sunday, after returning Marie to the singing group, thought about that property all night long.
In the morning he called the number and was told to meet the owners at the property that afternoon. By Wednesday, the property was theirs.
Merrill drew house plans, and he would ask Judie what changes she would like to make and he would draw a new plan to her liking. This went on for weeks and by the eights time, the plans sat on the dining room table for another six weeks without changes or new ideas. It was then that Merrill drew blueprints. The house they built had been what they dreamed of for all their lives. Judie was content and happy living on “Smith Mountain” for the las 41 years.
Judie and Merrill raised two fine young men, 12 calves, 3 horses, 76 hogs, 50 chickens, 17 cats, 17 dogs, and 3 cockatiels, (Not to mention all the sheep and goats) and a 1270 pound boar pig named “Boris”, all because of the accidental drive down that road.
In 1974 Judie was named M.S. Mother of the Year for the whole nation, and they were invited to the White House to meet President Ford. They were flown to Washington DC and treated like royalty for four days. They met and visited with The President in the Oval Office. Judie made her dress, Merrill’s slacks, shirt, and sports jacket that they wore to meet the President.
Judie was a great inspiration to many people and never afraid attempt the impossible. She always identified with her Victorian style and loved and collected many treasures. Their home was like an antique gallery.
While living at the ranch, Judie became and expert farmer’s wife and animal “raiser”. They raised pigs for over five years and sold many at livestock auction. Judie learned to run the cream separator and how to make butter and cottage cheese.
Judie insisted, and Merrill agreed, that she would raise the boys on natural foods and whole raw milk. When the boys were asked at school who their family doctor was, they didn’t answer because they never got sick.
Judie and Merrill were enjoying their retirement and had many plans to travel and see our great nation.
They had an enjoyable and loving marriage and had no regrets.
Left behind are sons, Erik and Aaron Smith and their wives, Terisita and Traci, plus their families; Erik and Teresita’s daughters, Shena, Janice, and Mercedes Kissinger, and son, Robert Jesus, as well and Aaron and Tracy’s daughter Kaitlyn and son Nicolus.