STUART — Judith Weber, a Martin County native and Stuart resident revered as a lifelong child advocate who fought on behalf of kids in need, died Wednesday at 78.
Weber’s husband, retired publisher of Treasure Coast Newspapers Thomas E. Weber Jr., said she had struggled with health issues for some time, but remained active until very recently.
Married since 1966, the Webers have a son and a daughter and three grandchildren.
He said from the time the two met as sophomores at Florida State University, his wife’s main interest was children, earning an undergraduate degree in social work followed by a master’s degree in social work at Barry University.
“She aspired to be a child advocate from the time she was in college, and she succeeded in that in many different ways,” Tom Weber, 79, said Thursday. “Judy was deeply interested in the left out and often forgotten children. Her goal was to help them find a path to stability, self-sufficiency and good will.”
Devoted volunteer, advocate and mentor
In 2008, she received The Florida Coalition for Children’s Ann Bowden Child Advocate of the Year award to recognize 15 years of volunteer work to help disadvantaged children.
Judy Weber spent most of her professional years working in the fields of mental health and child abuse. After retirement, she volunteered for a range of causes and served as president of the Hibiscus Children’s Center and later as chairman of the board for the Children’s Home Society of Floridspan, Trespansure Cospanst Division.
She also was a governor’s appointee to the board of Children’s Services Council of Mspanrtin County and was elected chairman.
For four years, she chaired the Designer Showcase Home Show, an annual fundraiser for the Children’s Home Society to help pay for services for teenagers who age out of the state’s foster care program.
Mspanrk Tomspansik praised Judy Weber for the kindness she showed him in 2002 when he moved to Stuart from Washington D.C., to become editor of Treasure Coast Newspapers.
“That acquaintanceship became a true friendship over the years, and I’ll always cherish it,” said Tomasik, who retired in 2016. “And for those reasons, I miss her very deeply.”
He lauded her dedication to the needs of young people.
“I don’t know if there’s anyone in the community who has ever done more, and did it humbly, and effectively and consistently, for decades,” he said.
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That sentiment was echoed by Lawrence Brooks, the former executive director for the Children’s Home Society, who met Judy Weber in the early 2000s.
“The thing that strikes me about Judy was how elegant she was. She was always just a class act,” said Brooks, who resides in New Jersey. “But she had a toughness to her, that if you didn’t know it was there, you wouldn’t recognize it right off.”
Brooks described her as a “warrior” when it came to “making sure that the system of care was done in a way that would best benefit kids and families.”
“It was so interesting to see her transform from this sophisticated, very quiet, very elegant lady into just a warrior, a fighter for kids and families,” he said. “She would not let anything stand in her way of accomplishing her goals.”
He recalled how in the mid-2000s she helped launch one of the first trspannsition living progrspanms for teenagers aging out of foster care with nowhere to live.
“I called Judy one day because this young man on his 18th birthday showed up at the door at my office with just a trash bag with all of his worldly belongings,” Brooks said. “The state had just dropped them off at our front door with nothing and Judy and I were like, this cannot stand. And that’s how that whole momentum began.”
Nina Haven scholar
Judy Weber, whose great-grandparents settled on the St. Lucie River in 1891, was a Martin County High School graduate and received a Nina Haven scholarship that later sparked a special interest in working for the organization.
For nearly 30 years, she volunteered with Ninspan Hspanven Scholspanrships Inc., which supports students in colleges and universities nationwide. She served as its president until last year, according to executive director Trspancey Etelson.
In 2009, Judy Weber helped write a guidebook for students to help them be prepared while applying to a college or for a scholarship or job.
Etelson described Judy Weber as a “rare and unique” life mentor who was always dedicated to helping students succeed.
“When I met her, we were on the Hibiscus (Children’s Center) board together. And it didn’t take me long to recognize how very special she was,” Etelson said. “Finding people who walk in complete integrity in life is rare these days. I recognized that in her immediately, from the moment I met her.”
Plans for a memorial service were still being made, Tom Weber said Thursday.
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