Longtime educator touched the lives of many


A longtime educator and minister who touched the lives of many children and adults in south central Indiana has passed away.

The Rev. Thomas “Tom” Judd, who died Wednesday, spent 44 years in education, including stints at schools in Jackson, Jennings and Orange counties.

Upon retirement from education, the 72-year-old North Vernon man became the minister at White’s Chapel United Methodist Church near Seymour, where he served until the time of his passing.

Kristye Lewis of Seymour said the first time she met Judd was at the Eggstra Special Easter Egg Hunt, which was founded by Judd and sponsored by his church in 2017.

“This was a very special Easter egg hunt as it was for children with disabilities,” she said. “Our daughter attended this, and I remember it being such a great event that I wrote a thank-you card afterwards. It was so special for all of the children.”

The next year, Lewis started taking Flash, her miniature therapy horse, to events for special needs individuals, and Judd asked them to attend.

“I remember at the end of that event in 2018, he was petting Flash and he became emotional,” Lewis said. “I think while petting Flash, he looked around and saw everything he had done for the kids that day and also how much the kids loved Flash, too. It was a very touching day. A few months later, he invited us to bring Flash out to White’s Chapel for everyone at the church to enjoy. That was a special evening, too.”

Lewis said Judd was a very kind and caring individual and will be greatly missed.

Judd, who graduated from Jennings County High School, earned a degree in math education from Florence State, now known as the University of North Alabama. He later earned a Master of Science and educational specialist degree from Indiana University.

Judd first taught math and was assistant principal at North Vernon Junior High School. After stints as principal of Crothersville Junior-Senior High School and Hayden Elementary School, he became assistant to the superintendent for Jennings County School Corp. He later served as superintendent for Orleans Community Schools and Medora Community School Corp.

“Mr. Judd was my principal when I was in high school at Crothersville in the mid-1970s,” Terry Richey of Crothersville said. “He was so supportive of me as a student and never failed to encourage me to be the best I could be. Years later, after Mr. Judd had moved on, I became the treasurer for Crothersville Community Schools. Mr. Judd came back as principal again.

“We had a whole different relationship then as co-workers, but he continued to not only support and encourage me, but two of my kids had him as their principal, and he did the same for them,” she said. “After leaving CHS again, I still had the opportunity to see him because his role at Ivy Tech brought him to Crothersville often. He never failed to ask about my kids and my family. He will be missed by many at CHS.”

Judd also was project director of high school initiatives for Ivy Tech Community College in Columbus and taught several graduate courses at Indiana University-Purdue University Columbus.

He had served as a board member of the Schneck Foundation, Mental Health America of Jackson County, Anchor House Family Assistance Center and Pantry and Hoosier Youth Challenge Academy and was a member of Sertoma, National Association of Elementary School Principals, National Association of Secondary School Principals, Gideons International and the Foster Grandparent Advisory Board.

Stephanie Flinn of Seymour said she had opportunity to work with Judd for the past 18 months in her role as executive director of the Schneck Foundation.

“On my first day, Tom walked in bright and early with a warm apple pie and a card to welcome me,” she said. “That was Tom. He was warm, welcoming and comforting to all who had the pleasure of coming in contact with him, just like that pie. The Schneck Foundation is better because of him. He will be greatly missed by many.”

Mindy Thompson of Seymour said she was fortunate enough to know Judd her entire life.

“He and Tina (Judd’s wife) lived next door to my parents when I was born,” she said. “He pulled my first tooth on his front porch when I was 5 and gave me saltwater to rinse with afterward.”

Thompson said Judd took her to the theater to see “Ernest Saves Christmas” when she was 11 and bought her ice cream afterward.

“He and Tina donned bow ties to serve dinner at my rehearsal dinner (held at my house), and all the guests thought they were hired caterers,” Thompson said.

Judd also supplied her with fresh blackberries every summer for years and years, she said.

“He preached my mom’s memorial service without hesitation when she passed away two years ago,” Thompson said. “Most importantly, he loved my family unconditionally the entire time he knew us and never failed to show up when we needed him.”

In 1990, the Indiana Association of Elementary and Middle School Principals named him District 9 Principal of the Year. He was an inductee into the Little Hoosiers Hall of Fame in Hayden. He also was a foster grandparent at Emerson Elementary School.

Jordan Richart of Seymour said it was great to see him when he was superintendent at Medora because he was so focused on students.

“He of course prioritized education but moved beyond that with the annual To Medora with Love, where he offered a dinner to the town’s elderly,” he said.

Richart said the students would seat people, take orders and serve food like a restaurant.

“Tom would always sing and provide entertainment, and other students would sing, as well,” he said. “I always thought that was a sweet thing he would organize, and it provided a valuable lesson to students about service to others.”

A walk-through visitation will be from 4 to 6 p.m. Monday at Voss and Sons Funeral Service in Seymour. The funeral will be at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday at the funeral home. Friends may call from 9:30 a.m. until time of service. The service will be livestreamed through the Voss and Sons Facebook page.

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