Judith Summerville Lucas, Rome, GA, educator, entrepreneur, connoisseur of The Varsity hot dogs, died Monday. She was 73.
Judye was born in 1940 in Haralson County, Georgia to Lillian and Hubert Summerville. After moving to Rome, she attended Rome High School where she excelled academically and starred as both a majorette and trumpeter. After graduating from Rome High School in 1958, she continued her education at Jacksonville State College. Although she graduated with honors from Jacksonville State in 1961, her most-cherished collegiate honor was the life-long group of friends she made there-the Jacksonville Girls. Judye would go on to receive master's and education-specialist's degrees from West Georgia College.
After college, Judye began her teaching career at Briarcliff High School in Atlanta. Upon returning to Rome, she taught at both East Rome and West Rome high schools before eventually settling at Coosa High School where her teaching of business, typing, and computers would span four decades.
Once retired from teaching, Judye did not slow down, but continued working by transitioning from running a seasonal store, The Christmas Shop, to the year-round The White Rabbit. Judye was a fixture at 538 Broad Street for 20 years and helped saved many a marriage, or at least helped prevent a fight or two, by guiding husbands to the perfect gift late on Christmas Eve. During those 20 years, Judye and the Elves became known for treating Downtown Rome to a different picturesque Christmas window scene each year. In 2010, she finally retired completely in order to focus on being a grandmother.
During her actual retirement, Judye employed her tireless work ethic and educational skills to teach her grandchildren, Wilson and Hudson, the joys of reading, music, football, baseball, and Coca-Cola. They, in turn, taught her that bedtimes and vegetables are optional.
Judye was preceded in death by her father, Hubert Summerville, and brother, Harold Curtis Summerville. Curt, always the life of the party, once introduced her to a generous one-armed bandit from Las Vegas with whom she fell madly in love. After that relationship ended, Judye would go on to have torrid love affairs with other one-armed bandits hailing from places such as Tunica and Biloxi, Mississippi.
Judye is survived by her mother, Lillian Eaves Summerville of Rome; her son Sam Lucas and his wife Julie; her two precious grandchildren, Wilson and Hudson Lucas; three sisters-in-law, Georgia Summerville of Rome, JoAnn Lucas of Bartlesville, Oklahoma, and Priscilla Sullins and her husband Tommy of Silver Creek; nephews Bobby Lucas, Jr. and his wife Ann of Bartlesville, Oklahoma, Harold (Corky) Summerville, Jr. of LaFayette, and Jacob Sullins of Cartersville; nieces Chrisi Sapp and her husband David, Carol Salmon and her husband Ramey, and Bobbie Thomas all of Rome, Leesa Kinsey of Bartlesville, Oklahoma, and Whitney Langley and her husband Jeff of Chattanooga; nine grandnephews and five grandnieces; several great-grandnephews and great-grandnieces; and her "Rome Family."
Judye collected several monikers throughout her life. Her high school and college friends knew her as Speed, her students knew her as Mrs. Lucas, the Rabbits knew her as both Self and Mrs. Rabbit, her business partner and frequent roommate knew her as Sister, and her precious Wilson and Hudson knew her simply as Juju.
Known for her strength and spirit, Judye displayed both as she fought that dreaded disease with everything she could get her hands on. Although the last few months were a struggle while battling cancer, the outpouring of love by friends and family truly amazed her-so much so that she more than once said that those last few months were the happiest of her life.
A celebration of her life will be held Saturday, January 4, 2014, at 2 p.m. at the First United Methodist Church. The family will receive friends in the Wilder Center at the church following the memorial service.
Daniel's Funeral Home is in charge of the arrangements. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University, and Cancer Navigators.