A long-time advocate for education, libraries and the arts, Judy Fuller, 79, of Longview passed away Tuesday morning from complications of pulmonary fibrosis.
“She was a very strong and determined person who carried through and acted on her beliefs and her passions,” said Karen Pickett, a friend of Fuller for 57 years.
Fuller’s strong personality was most evident in her passion for the Longview Public Library, where she started a career just a few years after moving to Longview with her husband, Don, in 1985.
“She believed very strongly in education, first of all, and the library certainly filled that role,” said Pickett, who first met Fuller at the University of Illinois, where they both studied English. They lived together after college while they both taught high school English in Illinois.
During her tenure at the library, Fuller established several new library programs. She started with the Education/Job Information Center, which provides resources and counseling for citizens seeking employment, and the small business resource collections.
Most notably, she founded the Northwest Voices program to bring local and regional writers to Longview to share their work.
The program established a partnership between the library and Lower Columbia College, inviting novelists and poets to Longview to teach a workshop at LCC and host a reading at the library.
“Basically she wanted to bring authors to the community to enlarge our educational experience and our arts experience,” said Pickett, whose husband, Pete, was president of LCC and worked side-by-side with Don Fuller.
A major supporter of the arts, Judy Fuller also played an role in the library’s Koth Gallery. In her free time, she attended fine arts events with her husband.
“She and Don loved music and art of all kinds and attended operas and more than a dozen plays a year in Portland,” said Cathy Zimmerman, friend of the Fullers and retired features editor of The Daily News.
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Fuller retired from the library in 2001, but she continued to serve the organization though the board of trustees and the library foundation board. She was a trustee for the library until 2016.
“Even when she left, she didn’t really the library completely,” said Chris Skaugset, current library director.
Skaugest worked alongside Fuller for five years before she retired. Their friendship continued after her retirement, Skaugset said, and she was an important mentor for him.
“She came across as not only knowledgeable and intelligent, but her sheer passion came out in her work. You knew (the library) was something important to her,” Skaugset said, adding that the way Fuller spoke about the library made you realize there was “no reason it shouldn’t be important to you, as well.”
Her friends laud Fuller as a gracious and caring hostess, and she and Don regularly entertained friends at their home.
“They both loved to cook and bake and hosted wonderful parties full of delicious food, laughter and lively conversation,” Zimmerman said.
Fuller’s legacy will carry on not only in the programs she started, but also in the ways she touched the lives of others. Fuller always emphasized the importance of community involvement, Skaugset said
“She started a lot of things and helped continue a lot of things, so I think there will be a gap perhaps in the arts and in the culture of the community without her to participate or help guide it,” Skaugset said.
Fuller is survived by her husband, Don, a former dean of instruction at Lower Columbia College and long-time food columnist for The Daily News.
“When I think of Don and Judy, I think of the lyrics from a cabaret song, ‘It was a good time, it was the best time, it was a party, just to be near you,’ ” Zimmerman said.