Calder's spirit memorialized at celebration of life

10/10/2007 7:00:00 AM

More than 80 family and friends of Judy Calder, the late human development and family studies professor, gathered Tuesday, Oct. 9 to celebrate the life of the longtime Nevada faculty member.

"My mom was a woman who believed life was full of endless possibilities," Calder's daughter, Kimberly Calder, said. "My mom took on many roles in her life: teacher, scholar, colleague, mother, wife, sister and a good friend to many. In all of these cases what never failed to amaze me was her unflagging love and generosity to those around her."

Several friends and colleagues gathered at the celebration of life to remember Calder.

Karen Kopera-Frye, an associate professor of human development and family studies, shared memories of her colleague, saying Calder was one of four mothering figures in her life.

"Judy was a wonderful woman, friend, colleague and nurturing fourth mom," she said.

Kopera-Frye also shared an analogy with guests, hoping to better demonstrate the kind of woman Calder was.

"Searching for the words that characterized what I loved most about my dear friend Judy, I thought about a time I was riding my horse across a field of sagebrush," Kopera-Frye said. "My horse, Shadow, stumbled over a sagebrush plant and brushed the bush and an incredibly pleasant scent filled the air. At this point I realized the attributes I loved about Judy were right in front of me.

"Sagebrush is the foundation of the Great Basin ecosystem and Judy loved Nevada's native beauty. Sagebrush blooms bright clusters of dramatic sunshiny flowers and I thought of Judy's intellectual brilliance, bright personality and the fire-red hair she had.

"Sagebrush supports and nurtures other life," Kopera-Frye continued. "Judy was the epitome of nurturing support for others and their ideas. Sagebrush branches appear sparse above ground, but the root structure is firmly grounded and produces a very strong plant.

"What I learned was that what may appear small and not very strong is indeed tenacious. This is a characteristic of Judy and the strong qualities that typified her approach to life. Sagebrush is a community-dwelling plant, found in congregate clusters and networked with others. Judy was a social woman and loved to engage in group projects. Her network was enormous."

Kopera-Frye closed her remarks with a Native American custom .

"A common wonderful practice in Native American culture is to have the host of an honoring ceremony give a symbolic, small object to the participants representing the spirit of a shared event," Kopera-Frye said. "It is called a giveaway."

She invited guests to take a small twig of sagebrush or lavender home with them, keeping it handy.

"When you pick up your bundle think a positive thought for Judy or say a small prayer," Kopera-Frye said. "I tied a white ribbon around the bundles to represent the fourth life-cycle of Native American culture in the wheel of life denoted by the color white, represented by "elderhood" and death. Sage is the sacred herbal plant representing the fourth stage elderhood. It has to do with experience and wisdom."

Kopera-Frye finished with: "Thank you Judy. I love you and I am going to miss you."

After remarks had been made by other guests, Charles Bullock, dean of the College of Health and Human Sciences, announced the establishment of the Judy Calder Memorial Scholarship.
The scholarship will be awarded to an undergraduate or graduate student who best exemplifies Calder's vibrant and enduring spirit of scholarship, research and commitment to the "Building a Healthy Nevada" framework she helped establish in the College of Health and Human Sciences.

"Jim Calder, Judy's husband, was extremely supportive of establishing this scholarship," Bullock said. "Judy was so supportive of the 'Building a Healthy Nevada' initiative in the college. We wanted to honor her and keep her spirit alive."

The initiative is a faculty-driven concept to improve the quality of life for people around the globe by addressing some of Nevada's most pressing social and health needs. Faculty, staff and students work as a team with community partners and others on campus to discover and implement ideas that will make a difference for individuals and communities. The college is addressing several key areas within that concept, including physical health, social well-being, behavioral health, public safety and resourceful communities.

Calder was born Nov. 1, 1942, and had been a faculty member at the University since 1992. Calder was initially hired to direct survey research for the Alan Bible Center for Applied Research.

Among Calder's noteworthy accomplishments are 15 years working with the Centers for Disease Control's Behavioral Risk Factors Surveillance Study in Nevada and her research on family and domestic violence. Additionally, Calder forged relationships with the State Department of Health and Human Services. She was also a creative instructor, using innovative teaching methods to enhance the classroom experience.

Calder received all of her higher education degrees from the University of California, Los Angeles. She earned her bachelor's degree in English in 1967, a master of arts degree in 1970 and her doctor of education degree with an emphasis in research methodology in 1977.

"Judy's death has pulled us together in a number of ways," Bullock said. "We are still saying goodbye and grieving."

Calder died Aug. 18. Police, who found her body in Elko County, are investigating her death as a homicide. She was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

Bullock has arranged for grief counseling for faculty, staff and students affected by Calder's death. Those individuals are encouraged to call University Counseling Services at (775) 784-4648.


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