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Judith Ann 'Judi' Drais

Judith Ann "Judi" Drais

"Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, champagne in one hand, strawberries in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming, 'WOO HOO - WHAT A RIDE!'"

Judith Ann "Judi" Drais died Friday, August 28, 2015, in Medford, Ore., her home for the past 30 years. She was born April 28, 1940, in Champaign, Ill., to Ralph and Thelma (Glover) Drais.

Her early childhood was spent in Monticello, Ill., where her father had grown up and in Clinton, Ind., where the family lived during World War II while her father served as an auxiliary military policeman at a munitions plant. After the war, the family moved to Grants Pass, Ore., where Judi attended Riverside Elementary School, Grants Pass Junior High School and Grants Pass High School, graduating from GPHS in 1958.

After a year at Willamette University, she transferred to the University of Oregon, where she was a member of Chi Omega and Mortar Board. She graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa in 1962 with a bachelor's degree in English. In 1984, she earned an MA in the teaching of writing from the University of California at Berkeley.

Judi taught English for two years at Lake Washington High School in Kirkland, Wash., and took graduate classes at the University of Washington. She then taught at Wheatridge and Golden high schools in suburban Denver, Colo., and then moved to Ashland, Ore. She taught language arts at nearby Talent Junior High/Middle School for 32 years before retiring in 1997. During those years, she was active in the Phoenix-Talent Education Association, serving as co-president for a year and on the negotiations team for several years. She was also active in the Oregon Writing Assessment program from its inception and served as as assessment site director in Lakeview for several years. 

After her retirement, Judi became active with the Southern Oregon Historical Society (SOHS), first as a volunteer and then as a board member, board president for two terms and then SOHS Foundation board president. She also served on the boards of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Southern Oregon Humane Society, Mediation Works, Art in Bloom and Friends of the Hannon Library at Southern Oregon University. She also kept members of the GPHS class of 1958 in touch with each other through a monthly newsletter she compiled for her classmates.

Judi was addicted to going to school. During her teaching career, she spent many summers and evenings taking classes and, after retirement, discovered Southern Oregon Learning in Retirement (SOLIR), where she could take classes -- sometimes eight or nine a term -- to her heart's content. She also taught SOLIR classes in personal writing, mystery novels, Lewis and Clark, etc., and spent three years on the SOLIR leadership council. She was an avid reader and book collector who also loved antiquing, vacationing on the Oregon coast and going out to eat!

As her teaching career, volunteer work, educational enrichment and "free time" activities indicate, Judi refused to stay home, despite spending the rest of her life in a wheelchair after being shot in the back in 1964.

Judi is survived by her adopted son, Brad Walter, Bradenton, Fla.; grandson, Zach Walter, and great-grandson, Bennett Walter, both of Pleasanton, Calif. She also leaves behind many close friends, including Malcolm and Ginger Campbell, Dana Drews, Amanda Pyle and Roberta Robison.

At Judi's request, there will be no funeral or memorial service and those wishing to make a charitable contribution in her memory are asked to choose the Southern Oregon Historical Society as its recipient.