It is with great sadness we pass on news received from Dr. A. J. Paul on the passing of his wife Judy McDonald, on September 6 from a fall at their home in Texas.
Judy was born on February 5, 1950, in Silver City New Mexico. Her father was a cowboy and farrier and her mother a ranch wife. She spent her youth on several large cattle ranches in southern California. After completing high school in Lompoc California, Judy attended San Diego State University, graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in Marine Biology in 1973.
In 1974 Dr. Howard Feder hired Judy to work in his lab at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, Institute of Marine Science. It was there that she met biological oceanographer A.J. Paul. They were married in 1975.
Judy and A.J. worked in Seward at the Seward Station (now called the Seward Marine Center), a division of UAF’s Institute of Marine Science, from 1975 to 2001. As a resident scientist Judy collaborated with A.J. and other researchers on numerous projects studying the life histories of benthic and planktonic invertebrates and fishes, and coauthoring several research papers. She sailed on University and NOAA research vessels and provided guidance to numerous local high school students, university under graduates, master’s degree students and doctoral candidates. With her extensive knowledge and memory, she was able to assist everyone, providing interesting anecdotes and humor.
Judy was one of the driving forces behind the creation of the Alaska Region National Ocean Sciences Bowl, also known as the Alaska Tsunami Bowl, in 1998. This national academic competition for high school students involved memorizing facts about the ocean sciences. Judy added components of critical thinking, public speaking, technical writing, teamwork and art to the Alaska competition, aspects that have since been incorporated into the national competition as well. Judy served as the Alaska regional coordinator from 1998 to 2001 and continued as a valuable volunteer for many years after her retirement.
As a participating visionary Judy promoted and was active in the development of Alaska SeaLife Center. Some of you may remember the first year of fund raising, the 4th of July table in front of the GCI building offering information on the new to come ASLC and members of the board asking for donations to support the center, prior to its eventual opening in 1998!
During her time in Seward Judy was a volunteer for the Civil Air Patrol, assisting with training, participating in missions and serving as a strong advocate of improving the Seward airport. She was also a Marine Science 4-H leader, volunteering for an organization she enjoyed as a young girl and inspiring many students to continue the study marine science at the university level.
Judy was an active, vivacious, hardworking scientist, educator, community volunteer with many organizations, lover of a good beach walk, good food, vino and was a great pie baker! Actually, if Judy had a hand in the cooking it was always excellent! Every year Judy and A.J. had a fantastic 4th of July picnic in their back yard on 6th street welcoming university students, staff and community members.
After retirement in 2001 Judy and AJ moved to the YO Ranch in Junction Texas. There she took up new volunteer activities and new hobbies, including silversmithing. She enjoyed talking to anyone she met, and traveling, especially with AJ’s children and grandchildren.
Judy enriched our community in so many ways. We will always remember her laughter, wit, and spirit!
Tributes for and about Judy are being sent from Ronald Smith, a fellow scientist:
“Judy McDonald was our dearest friend and Marsha and I are devastated by her loss. I (Ron) first met her (and A.J.) in 1976 in Seward, Alaska. We met to pull together some research proposals to submit to the Alaska Sea Grant Program. Judy was the super-organized, practical, lab-oriented scientist that told me (and A.J.) what was realistic, what was doable, and how much time it would take.
“As a result, our combined efforts resulted in a life-long friendship. And dozens of papers published in the scientific literature about commercially important Alaskan fishes and invertebrates. This research helped set regulations and helped better understand and manage Alaska’s marine resources.
“The four of us spent many hours socializing and when we went to their house we were always greeted with an exuberant “Hi there boys and girls!”
“Judy was a loving, caring daughter-in-law to A.J.’s 97-year-old mother Lucy and faithfully visited her 98-year-old father in California. We will miss her infectious laugh, her depth and breadth of knowledge, her willingness to ask questions and just to be a friend.
“Dr. Dean Stockwell, UAF Faculty I interacted with Judy McDonald primarily through her efforts with National Ocean Science Bowl. Judy was a key player in helping initiate, organize, and run the Alaska Regional competition. Her energy, enthusiasm and devotion for these young high school students was infectious and an inspiration for me. The program flourished because of volunteers like Judy. Yet, it was Judy’s determination and vision to bring “art” into the program. Teaching ocean sciences through the eyes of artists was a valuable insight and I will forever remember Judy for this contribution.”
Daniel Oliver, former Director, Marine Superintendent of Seward Marine Center: “I am sorry for all of us at Judy's passing.”
A celebration of life will be hold on the beach by Seward Marine Center in 2022.