Judith Annette Cefalu
October 24, 1938 – November 20, 2020
On November 20, 2020, Judith Annette Cefalu, a loving wife, mother and grandmother, passed away peacefully at the age of 82. In 1956, Judy graduated from El Dorado High School in Placerville, CA. Later that year, she was appointed the first El Dorado County Miss September Harvest and then continued her education at San Jose State College.
Judy spent her summers working at her parents’ shirt laundry in South Lake Tahoe and this is where she met her husband, John Cefalu. They eloped six weeks after they met at the justice of the peace in Minden, NV, on September 20, 1959 and were married for 61 years. They settled in South Lake Tahoe where they raised their three children, Christopher, Gina and Joby (Jonathon). Judy assisted John in operating their family businesses, including Tahoe Linen Service, U-Stor It Warehouses, and management of several other of their commercial and residential properties.
To know Judy was to love her. Her love for her family was unquestionable and unconditional, but her circle of love was bigger than her husband, children and grandchildren. Judy treated her children’s spouses like her own and many of her children’s friends considered her a second mom. The countless stories of her love, kindness, generosity and support have not stopped pouring in – from extended family, friends and strangers, to caregivers and those she volunteered with for decades. The words she never forgot deep into her illness were: “I love you.”
The South Lake Tahoe community benefitted greatly from Judy’s donation of time, energy, and enthusiasm. In 1961, she became a charter member of the Barton Hospital Auxiliary which raised money to build the hospital. After Barton Hospital opened in 1963, she co-founded the Candy Stripers volunteer program. Over the years, she served on the Auxiliary By-Laws/Parliamentarian/Finance committee (2008-2009), served as Auxiliary President/ Finance committee member (2011-2012), and was the Auxiliary Vice-President (2013). She volunteered many hours to Barton Hospital thrift store,The Attic, throughout her time on the Auxiliary board.
Judy was an active supporter of the Barton Foundation, including their annual Gala event.
Judy never met a person she wasn’t willing to help, but found her passion in working with children. In the 1970’s and 80’s she taught religious education at St. Theresa’s School, coached Peppermint Patty softball, assisted with Little League, was a Brownie and Girl Scout leader, volunteered in classrooms, and was a member of the South Tahoe High School Booster Club. In 2009, she was elected to the Lake Tahoe Unified School District Board of Directors, but resigned due to difficulties associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
Judy found the most joy and fulfillment in the work she did for CASA El Dorado. She transformed many young lives through her CASA work from its conception in 1994 for almost two decades. In 2002, received the Heart of a Leader award, selected from four surrounding counties, for her longtime work with El Dorado County CASA in the areas of mentoring, tutoring, violence and drug prevention.
May we keep the warmth of her love in our hearts and her legacy of generosity alive. The family hopes to hold a Celebration of Life in the once COVID-19 measures have relaxed so we can all come together to share stories, have a glass of white wine with ice cubes and honor a truly beloved woman. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that you kindly make donations in her memory to the Alzheimer’s Association (#ENDALZ, alz.org).
Judy is preceded in death by her mother and father, Roger and Antoinette Douvres. She is survived by her husband of 61 years, John Cefalu; children Chris Cefalu (Paige), Gina De Loia (Michael), Joby Cefalu (Laura); grandchildren John Tyler Cefalu (25), Nicholas Cefalu (22), Tommy Cefalu (21), Emily Cefalu (21), Giovana De Loia (17); her sister, Suzanne Bickel; as well as aunts, nieces and nephews.
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