I was in school when I got a call. I rarely take calls during school but my wards were busy, and for some reason I chose to answer this one. TUSD Board member, Judy Burns had passed away, it had just been announced. I ran to the computer and saw the email from Dr. Pedicone. I was dumb-founded. How was it possible? What happened? It seemed unreal.
Later I got the information she had a massive heart attack. She was sixty-three years old and well known at my school for many years where her daughter had once worked in our before and after school program. But beyond that, she was a friend, a friend to me, to the children of TUSD and especially, a friend to the much-maligned teachers of our district.
She had served on the TUSD Board for more than ten years and before that she was active and well known in the district. She is the one candidate for the board that I had unhesitatingly supported every time she ran for the board. I used to see her at all kinds of events: fund raisers, classes, schools. We always found time to chat about the latest developments, crises, catastrophes. I enjoyed getting her perspective on things. In fact I had just received an email from her in answer to one of mine a few days before. We had shared home email addresses, something I do too often and I think she had too. But that was how she was. Judy didn’t duck controversy or water-down her opinions. She was what you saw, and she was what she said she was. She was at once always accessible and stalwart in her support of public education.
All those ‘was’es helps me realize that she is really gone and that is the ultimate tragedy. Judy Burns was irreplaceable to the teachers and students in TUSD. We are all much poorer for her absence from of our district and public education in Arizona. Sleep well, my friend, you earned your rest but you left us with a great void to fill and I do not see anyone else who could adequately fill it as well as you did.