- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
We knew her initially as the wife of emeritus professor Charles "Charlie" Judson (1926-2015) of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, a noted insect physiologist, mosquito researcher and teacher who served as a member of the faculty for three decades. He died July 26, 2015 at age 88.
Marilyn Judson died July 7, 2020 at age 91.
Her death saddens us, but her contributions, her generosity and her joy live on.
The obituary in the Davis Enterprise began:
"On Tuesday, July 7, 2020, Marilyn Wilburn Judson died peacefully at the age of 91. Her dear friend Kitty Liebhardt described her best: 'She was a little lady who was big in many lives. Not loud or showy. Just quiet, accomplished and steady, secure in her competency, not only a creative artist, but a creative problem solver as well; a smile for the troubled, a hand for the needy, and pick me up for the weary and a calm antidote for the ruffled.'"
Judson, a native of Washington state, met her husband-to-be in Riverside where she was attending college. The couple married in 1950 and moved to Davis where they raised their children. (See obituary)
"It wouldn't be unusual for her to put out a demand to her family that she needed a picture of a stalk of wheat, a California poppy or a mosquito on which to model her work — she was able to find beauty and art in the everyday," the obituary indicated.
Yes, she found beauty and art every day and she shared it at art shows and classes.
"In addition to creating art, Marilyn shared her passion by teaching calligraphy classes at the Davis adult school. She co-authored and illustrated a book about making musical instruments with former neighbor Eileen Hunter, and also developed a small embroidery kit business called Dandelion with friends Pat Carmen and Jody House."
"She supported her community by involvement with the Davis Art Center and Pence Gallery. She volunteered with the Davis Friends of the Library and loved frequent coffee gatherings at Fluffy Donuts with dear friends."
"Charlie Judson radiated graciousness, trust and respect, and personified everything good in a university scientist, mentor, and teacher," recalled distinguished professor of entomology James R. Carey of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. "He not only helped shape our department in its early days, but also set a very high bar for personal decency and professional integrity. Colleagues like Charlie are hard to find, difficult to lose, and impossible to forget."
Our tribute to Professor Judson resulted in a number of emails, including one from former graduate student Benito O. de Lumen. His comments speak volumes of the Judsons' generosity: "I was a graduate student in Agric Chemistry- Biochemistry when my wife Helen, served as a research associate with Professor Judson, in the 1970s. I usually visit my wife in Judson's lab and helped in feeding his mosquitoes by poking my hand into the mosquito chamber. It itched initially, then I could not feel the pain anymore. Helen and I were invited into their home a number of times and when Helen visited the Philippines, Charles and Marilyn graciously, invited me for dinner, by myself."
It's the little things we remember, but it's the little things that mean the most.
Comments from the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility Facebook Page:
Barb Laidlaw Murphy
This makes me quite sad. The Judsons lived close to us and when I was in high school and college I used to go over and talk for hours about art with Marilyn. Mom would have to call and have her send me home for dinner. She and Charles were wonderful to my parents in their final years.
Marilyn Anne Love
a beautiful life, lived well
Oh wow, I'm so sorry to hear this. She was part of the Bees at the Bee thing I put together. I think she did paper sculpture of bees for that one. I remember a really lovely, kind hearted person who made me feel very welcome. I'm sure she's left that legacy of good feelings all over her friends and family. That sounds like good fun well done.
I am so sorry to hear this. I knew the Judsons when I was growing up. Charles and my dad were colleagues. When my dad went to the hospital, she was the first person there to comfort me.
- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
Okay, be honest.
If you were attending class at 7:30 a.m., could you get excited about flies? No? How about the gender differences? Still no?
You would if Mary Frances “Fran” Keller were there teaching you.
You won’t find anyone more enthusiastic about entomology than Fran Keller.
A doctoral candidate in entomology, she recently received an outstanding teaching award at UC Davis.
She's amazing. Take it from pre-med student Shawn Purnell, one of Keller’s students.
“My perception and expectations of teacher assistants were forever raised when I met Fran,” he said.
“Truthfully, the very first time I had lab, I thought Fran was a little crazy. I had never before seen anyone become so enthralled in explaining the differences between male and female flies, especially at in the morning. I thought to myself, why would I ever be interested in this and how is this knowledge ever going to benefit me? To my surprise, by the very next lab I found myself blissfully explaining the conditions of Hardy-Weinberg Equilibrium to my lab partner. Fran’s passion toward her students and enthusiasm for not only zoology, but also all aspects of academia, created an irresistible learning environment.”
If it creeps or crawls or flies or jumps, Fran wants to know about it. She's especially partial to tenebrionids or darkling beetles (see her Web site). She’s also an accomplished artist, illustrator and nature photographer. And a wife and mother of two.
Her four years as the teaching assistant (TA) in an insect physiology class taught by Charles Judson, emeritus professor of entomology and professors Bruce Hammock and Walter Leal, led to the teaching honor. The trio nominated her for the award, which Chancellor Larry Vanderhoef presented to her at a May ceremony on the UC Davis campus.
How does she do it? Excel at teaching? Fran gets to know her students individually and then focuses on their interests. “She showed me countless examples of how the subject (biological sciences) applied to medicine," Shawn Purnell said. "I especially remember her telling a story about how a graduate student willingly ate a tapeworm to further her research, and what the doctors had to do in order to remove it.”
"It's reassuring to know that out of a maze of 30,000 students and faculty at Davis," he said, "that there are people like Fran who really care."
Said Fran: “Not all students learn in the same way. There are global, linear and kinesthetic learners. I believe that illuminating a student’s learning style opens the door for thinking critically.”
"My very best teachers would not accept less than what they knew I was capable of doing. They understood my potential and treated me as an individual in a sea of many.”
Fran, scheduled to receive her doctorate next June, studies with major advisor Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology and chair of the Department of Entomology.
The doctoral candidate is based at the Bohart Museum of Entomology, where she also designs museum posters, such as the Butterflies of Central California, Dragonflies of California, California State Insect (California Dogface Butterfly) and Pacific Invasive Ants. Currently she's coordinating a sale of gift items listed on the Bohart Web site. Proceeds benefit the museum's outreach program.
What’s she been up to lately? I hope you're sitting down!
This fall she will be TA’ing Entomology 100 with her major professor Lynn Kimsey, who describes her as "one of my most gifted students ever."
She's an invited speaker for the first California Desert Research Symposium (CDRS), set Nov. 8 at the University of the
Fran is also organizing the Coleoptera symposium at the Entomological Society of America annual meeting set Nov. 16-19 in R
And for all you dragonfly enthusiasts out there, she's designing a new dragonfly t-shirt for the museum gift shop.
And about those flies she so eagerly discusses at 7:30 in the morning? How much time do you have?