Judith Schreider died in peace at home in the presence of her loving husband (Jay), sweet dog (Cayenne), and caregiver (Lisa Perrin) after a lifetime struggle with Type 1 Diabetes.
She was born Judith Leone Speer on Oct. 17, 1939 in Glendale to George Robert Speer and Dorothy Elizabeth Dryden. Dorothy later married Robert Galusha, a kind man to whom Judith became very close.
Judith grew up in Southern California and was an excellent student at Valencia High School in Fullerton. She was an avid reader and enthusiastic learner, practices she maintained throughout her life. She entered the University of Oregon in 1958 and joined Kappa Alpha Theta sorority where she formed lifelong friendships (she was active in founding a chapter at UCD). Judith met and was engaged to her future husband, George Simpson. Unfortunately, she had to leave the University due to a family disruption. She returned to Fullerton, married George in 1960, and moved to Hillsborough. George and Judith had two daughters; Suzanne Elizabeth followed by Catherine Elizabeth (Judith loved the name Elizabeth).
Judith further developed her volunteering habits that continued throughout her life. George and Judith divorced in 1968 and Judith completed her undergraduate studies at California State University, Hayward. Subsequently, Judith, Sue and Cathy moved to Davis in 1970 where Judith began her graduate work in Biological Anthropology. As part of her field work, Judith and her daughters were set to spend a year in the Jungles of Venezuela studying primate interactions. However, a medical examination in preparation for the trip uncovered her late onset Type I diabetes. In addition to disrupting her studies, this started her life of health struggles.
Yet she persisted - as she did throughout her life. Her field of research shifted to perinatal biology and non-human primate reproduction at the California Primate Research Center and she received her PhD in 1976. Judith continued with postdoctoral work in perinatal biology from 1976 – 1979, lectured, and consulted for 6 years on primate reproduction with the Letterman Army Institute of Research.
Judith always enjoyed working with college students, even as a graduate student and post-doc. Mentoring college students turned out to be her niche and love in the academic world. In 1978 Judith was encouraged by Chancellor James Meyer’s office to apply for a new position in the Health Sciences Advising Office (HSAO). Chancellor Meyer had a goal to raise the UC Davis reputation as a premier school for students interested in maximizing their opportunity for admission to graduate and health professional schools. They wanted to have a PhD level science individual so that would be accepted by deans and directors of admissions at health professional schools and also have a knowledge of UC Davis and a history of working with students. Judith was perfect for the job and became the director of HSAO and Chair of the Pre-Health Professions Advisory Committee (PHPAC); positions she held until her retirement in 1993. During her tenure, she also served on various committees of Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC) and the National Association of Advisors for Health Professions.
Although officially retired in 1993, she remained as Chairman, PHPAC until the doors on the program closed. She was not paid but truly cherished continuing to work with the students, conducting interviews in her home, and receiving calls from them and admissions officials at all hours. Even after the program closed, students would call asking for advice. This is also reflected in her advising of members of the Kappa Alpha Theta sorority at UCD and the over 25 years of activities as the alumni liaison with the Prytanean Women’s Honor Society.
Judith’s activities included volunteer work for Assemblyman John Vasconcellos and Congressman Vic Fazio. She also served on the board of directors of a local non-profit organization, where she met her future husband, Jay Schreider, who was also on the board. Their relationship flourished and they were married on May 21, 1993, with their dog (Pepper) serving as a flower girl.
An activity Judith began concurrent with her position with the PHPAC was preparing Christmas pumpkin bread and fudge for the members of the committee, delivered to their homes. Over the years, the delivery list expanded to include the neighbors around her house.
Judith and Jay had a kind and nurturing marriage and supported each other’s myriad different activities and interests. Their greatest joys came with the marriage of Cathy to Thomas Copenhaver and the birth of their children, John Robert and James Phillip. Judith was referred to as “Gram.” Judith cherished watching digital pictures of John and James until the time of her death.
Another of Judith’s joys was watching “her students” as they completed their studies and had successful careers in the various health professions. Many of her students have maintained contact with Judith over the years and her face lit the room when they called or visited her. Almost to a person, they expressed their love and gratitude for her nurturing and mentoring.
Judith had a profound sense of fairness and kindness; enthusiasm for science, reading, and education; and deep empathy for the less fortunate. Her intelligence, smile, and enthusiasm will be missed. It was Jay’s greatest honor and joy to care for Judith.
Judith is survived by her loving husband Jay, loving dog Cayenne, daughters Suzanne Swanson and Catherine Copenhaver, grandchildren John Robert and James Phillip Copenhaver, brothers Robert Galusha and David Galusha, sister Donna Graden, and nieces Laura Gordon, Margaret Braun, Meghan Galusha, and Katelin Moore. She was preceded in death by her dogs Pepper and Chili.
Following Judith’s wishes, there will be no formal services or memorial. She also expressed her hope that people would vote. Anyone who knew Judith’s heart knows how she would have voted in the upcoming election. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Yolo Hospice or Yolo Food Bank.
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