The world became a lot quieter on Sunday, October 22, 2023 when Judith Ann Kavalak had her last big laugh with her family by her side at the Cumberland Regional Health Care Centre.
Born in Windham Hill, NS on May 10th, 1945, she was the daughter of the late Merle Fillmore and the late Ruby (Herrett) Ripley. Judy was a force to be reckoned with, even from the time that she was a little girl. Her red hair was a reflection of her feisty, independent spirit; one that never waned even in her golden years.
Judy spoke fondly of her college days in the Valley which led to many jobs including AVCO, the Better Business Bureau and later as a Loans Officer at the CIBC. She loved gardening, and even as her mobility decreased, you could still see her out in the yard on McFarlane Street puttering in her gardens. She enjoyed spending time at the Ranch in Windham with her late husband, Tommy, and this was one of the things she missed the most since his passing.
While Judy never had her driver’s license, that did not stop her from taking to the roads. There are many stories of her excellent driving skills over the years. Once she almost drove Tommy’s motorcycle up a tree because she didn’t know how to use the brakes. A fond memory that she often spoke of was driving the wheelbarrow up the Windham Road with her favorite Aunt, Barb, during a family reunion. And of course anyone who has seen her around town in the past few years will never forget "Wild Thing". This blue, enclosed mobility scooter, or her car as she called it, brought her some newfound freedom when Tommy passed. She spent much of her time trying to hide from her girls the number of times she crashed it; rolled it or simply broke something off it.
Judy was known for her sense of humour, something that often was a source of embarrassment for her husband and daughters but brought so much joy to everyone around her. She was the life of the party, the loudest laugh and willing to do anything for a joke. She spent many years "performing" as Dolly Parton with her partners in crime, June Carter Cash (Arnold Harrison) and Big Johnny Cash (Doug Dobson). Judy loved to tease and her flirtatious nature with anyone of the opposite sex was something she maintained right to her last breath. Whether it was a young male nurse, a doctor or a food service worker, none of them escaped her "spicy" comments.
Judy was someone who loved living life and over the years she made many friends. There are too many to mention them all but there will be some who will miss her more than others. Life long friends, Linda Brown and Shirley King, her travel buddy, Helen Brennan, her friend and supporter, Carmella Vacon and her former neighbour, Melissa Margeson. Judy had a generous heart; she not only volunteered, for many charities but she was always willing to donate to charities or any fundraising community event for others in need. Her volunteering even went as far as her offering up her daughters help for many people over the years. This was who she was and never gave a second thought to lending a helping hand.
She was a Facebook Queen and had more accounts (thanks to her inability to remember her passwords) than you could shake a stick at and her friend count was well over 1000. Covid hit hard when she was isolated from her girls and living on her own; her Facebook friends kept her connected throughout the pandemic.
Along with all of these things; her greatest source of pride was her family. She loved them fiercely and without apology. She lost her Tommy in 2018, just a few weeks short of their 50th anniversary. His passing left a huge void in her heart that she never truly recovered from. She taught her girls, Marla and Stacey, to be proud of who they are, to stand up for what is right; to be people of integrity and to give back to society. She was so proud of their accomplishments from their education to their careers, to their families. Her son in law, Ron, was the son she never had and she always told Stacey that he was like Tommy, especially in regards to his cooking skills And while she drove Ron crazy with her sense of humour, their relationship was special to them both. Michelle, her daughter-in-law, was the one she could count on to not be emotional and always calm the waters. Over the last several months while she was in the hospital, it was often Michelle she would call to come break her out. Judy felt she was lucky to have a third daughter, one that Marla and Stacey thought she loved more than she loved them sometimes. Her grandchildren could do no wrong in her eyes. Her main man, Brody; her only granddaughter, Keigan and her little Coley kept her young; brought a smile to her face and gave her purpose in life.
Judy will be dearly missed by her daughters Marla (Michelle) Kavalak, Moncton, NB and Stacey (Ron) St. Peter, Oromocto, NB; grandchildren Keigan Kavalak as well as Brody and Cole St. Peter. She is also survived by her brother, Harvey Ripley, several aunts and uncles as well as her special nephews, Scott and Chris McLeod.
Besides her parents, she was predeceased by her husband Tommy, her sister, Shawna Ripley, her mother in law, Edna Kavalak, her sister in law, Audrey McLeod and her nephew Sean McLeod.
Arrangements are under the care and guidance of A H Brown Funeral Home 5 McFarlane St., Springhill, NS (902-597-2361) where visitation will take place Friday, October 27th, 2023 from noon to 2 PM followed immediately by a funeral service with Ruth Gamble, DLM officiating. Burial will follow in the Windham Hill Cemetery.
For those who wish to do so, donations in memory of Judy may be sent to a charity of your choice but in true Judy fashion we know she would love for people to donate to the Killan and Gabriel families in their time of need
Sharing of memories and condolences may be sent to the family by visiting the online memorial at www.brownsfuneralhome.com or through the A H Brown Funeral Home Facebook Page.