Judith “Jude” Benson ~ Class of 1966
Departed ~ 5/2/2018
Judith K. Benson 1948 ~ 2018
It is with heavy hearts we announce that our sister, Judith Kathleen Benson passed on to join our Lord on May 2, 2018, after a short illness.
Judy arrived into the world in Ft. Lewis, WA, in 1948. Born as an U.S. Army dependent, Judy lived all around the country, from Washington state, Leavenworth, KS, Long Branch, NJ, Florida and northern Virginia. In the early 1960s, upon her father’s retirement from the Army, the family moved to Djakarta, Indonesia. That tour was followed by several years in Bangkok, Thailand, where she graduated with honors from the International School Bangkok in 1966. She was inducted into the National Honor Society that same year. While in Bangkok, Judy hosted an English language easy-listening music program on a Thai FM radio station for two years.
Judy returned to the States to attend Sarah Lawrence College, graduating magna cum laude in 1970 with a degree in drama. After graduation, she spent the next few years involved with New York’s off-Broadway theater scene, acting in several productions presented at the La Mama Experimental Theatre Club. She consistently received good reviews.
In 1973, Judy relocated to Washington, D.C. where she continued to pursue her interest in the dramatic arts with the local theatre scene, performing in productions at Arena Stage. She also worked as a researcher at the Folger Shakespeare Library and the Smithsonian Institution. Other research positions included work at an FM radio station in Silver Spring.
Judy struggled with mental illness since 1973, receiving a diagnosis of schizophrenia. In 1974, she entered into a pioneering experimental treatment program at the National Institute for Mental Health in Bethesda, MD. The experimental drugs she was treated with helped establish today’s modern mental health drug protocols. Judy’s original diagnosis eventually changed into what is presently referred to as bi-polar disorder.
Judy also struggled with the social isolation that is all too common for those with chronic mental illness. She constantly sought to overcome the stigma associated with the disease. It was a long fight.
Judy relocated to the Philadelphia area, in 2010, eventually ending up in Chester, PA. She was just recently diagnosed with lung cancer which had quickly spread to other organs.
She was preceded in death by her parents, Joseph W. and Nancy (Friel) Benson, along with a brother, Joe, and sister, Samantha. She is survived by her sister, Joanne Carr (Paul), brother John (Marynell), nieces Christine and Lucy, step-nephew Jeff DeLong and nephew Sam. Mental health affects everyone. Please send a donation in Judy’s memory to the National Alliance on Mental Illness at www.nami.org. A memorial service and reception will be scheduled at a future time and place.
Thank you, Joanne and John
Please send pictures (old and new), anecdotes, articles, stories and tributes to isbeings at gmail dot com