Judith S. Miller passed away on August 12, 2022.
Judy, who at one time was very well-known to many Vineyarders as a conservationist intent on preserving as much of the Island’s natural habitat as possible, got her start as an activist unusually early. In fact, while she was still a student at Queens College, where she was a journalism major, she began her lifelong quest to make the world a healthier, more equitable place. Over the years living in Ohio, then Chicago and St. Louis, she put her writing talents, persuasive speaking, administrative abilities, and passion for community organizing to use in the service of many important progressive causes. These began with labor union organizing in Pennsylvania and Ohio, after which she did fieldwork with the American Friends Service Committee, fostering racial integration first in Chicago and later as a consultant in St. Louis, as well as contributing many years of work with numerous organizations promoting world peace and drawing attention to the dangers of nuclear weapons.
When she moved to Martha’s Vineyard in 1973, she took a job with the Vineyard Conservation Society, and also served for a long time as chair of the Tisbury conservation commission, in addition to being one of the founders of the Wastewater Coalition. She was not only a staunch supporter of the Vineyard Haven library, but put her principles to work as a board member, which every year involved lugging lots of very heavy boxes of books donated for their summer sales. Judy devoted herself skillfully and passionately to supporting the efforts of these organizations to preserve as much as possible of the farmland, meadows, woods, and wetlands in perpetuity for everyone who lives on and visits the Island. There may not be any particular location named in her honor, but a good deal of open land on the Island has been conserved in part through her tireless and dedicated involvement.
Many people remember Judy as a deeply loyal and loving friend and an exceptionally warm and generous hostess, who loved to cook for people. Her doors were always wide open to a broad range of people, and she maintained a huge correspondence with a great many people who’d been her friends for decades. Her enormous library was legendary, and she was an accomplished amateur botanist, a birder, and quite a knowledgeable geologist. In fact, her elegantly documented collection of Island mineral specimens and fossils is now housed at the Martha’s Vineyard Museum, enlarging their local holdings.
Judy is survived by her three children, David Miller, Deborah Miller, and Yonatan Rappeport, as well as numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren in Canada and Israel. She will be greatly missed.