Judy Loughlin of Conway, MA passed away unexpectedly on March 9th 2021 while joyfully skiing her favorite slopes as she did every day. Judy will be remembered by countless friends and family as an energetic, loving, and passionate person. She was preceded in death by her parents, Edmond and Mary Loughlin and survived by her husband, Bob Armstrong, her children, Robin, Molly, Kaitlin, and Anna Armstrong, her brothers, Ned and Dan Loughlin, and numerous relatives.
Judy was born February 6, 1951 in Lynnfield, MA and attended Lynnfield High School where she made wonderful friends with whom she remained close through adulthood. She spent many summers working with her parents at their Hampton Beach cottages and hotel, the Grand View. She also loved visiting her Aunt Eileen and Uncle John Farrell at their home in Falmouth, MA, fishing and boating with her cousins Chris and Janice and taking classes at the Woods Hole Marine Biological Labs.
After attending McGill University for a year, Judy bucked expectations and left school to travel around Europe. Years later, she would tell stories from her trip that sounded like scenes from a movie, to the amazement of her children. She described staying in a beach house on the coast of Greece where she and friends would frequently head into town to refill an enormous jug of wine for a mere handful of coins, or going to a German beer festival at the end of her trip where she reunited with travelers she had met months earlier on the train.
After several months of traveling, Judy returned to the Boston area where she started a young women’s drop-in center in Charlestown. Around this time, she met and fell in love with her future husband Bob, having been introduced several times by mutual friends, and they explored each others passions for gardening, sailing, raising sheep and the importance of education. She returned to school at UMass Amherst, and after earning a degree in teaching, she and Bob moved to nearby Conway where they married, built a strong network of friends, and raised their family. She honed her teaching skills at Buckland Shelburne Elementary and the Greenfield Center School, and for many years chaired the Conway Grammar School Committee, upgrading it to one of the top elementary schools in the state.
There was never a dull moment in the Loughlin Armstrong household. Between 1985 and 1990, Judy and Bob had four children. She embraced and celebrated her children’s unique personalities and found creative ways to make them each feel special, planning unforgettable themed birthday parties and making individualized photo albums for each one. Judy lived by the motto “think globally, act locally” and no day was complete that didn’t include the family around the dinner table, reviewing the day, homework, and who you sat with at lunch.
Judy returned to UMass again, earning a PhD in Psychology and discovering her true passion for literacy. She believed that all children deserve to become readers and that while some children grow into reading naturally, many, for a wide variety of reasons, require often simple explicit instruction to master skills they did not pick up easily. She felt it was criminal that so many teachers of young children were not taught to identify these reading obstacles and the interventions to master them. Her life’s mission was to open teacher’s eyes to teaching reading in ways that really work, skills that too often are left out of school curriculums. She dedicated much of her professional life to empowering educators to employ evidence-based literacy practices, as a teacher, graduate student, visiting professor, and consultant. She challenged all educators to provide the best literacy instruction they possibly could for all students, advocated for better literacy policy at the district and state levels, and offered direct instruction to educators and colleagues. She never hesitated to roll-up her sleeves and model evidence-based practices. She was so driven in her effort to ensure all students have an equal opportunity to read that she'd travel to faraway places, work long days in schools, and spend hours preparing to support teachers and students. Judy's generosity with her time and level of support was unique. She had a broad impact on the careers of many educators and on the literacy outcomes for countless students. Her impact on the field of education through the teachers she trained will be long-standing.
A source of comfort to those who love Judy is the recognition that she lived life to the fullest. She retired when the pandemic forced schools to close, and she and Bob spent their ‘isolation’ in Falmouth, MA, fixing up her beloved 28’ Cape Dory, sailing it, oystering, and having virtual dinner parties with family and friends. Back in Western Mass this winter, she went skiing every day, another life-long pleasure.
With her family and close friends, we aim to share fond memories of Judy and the impact she’s left on all of our lives at a memorial ceremony at her Conway home later in the summer.
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