In Memoriam -- Judith Jewel Herman Keller, 1925-2017


Judith Keller, born Judith Jewel Herman on September 13, 1925, in Dorchester, MA, died in New York City on March 23, 2017 of pneumonia complications. The adventurous daughter of Harry Herman and Celia Prosofsky Herman, she was the second of four children. The family struggled through the Great Depression. Upon graduation from high school in 1943 with World War II still raging, Judith became a Nurse Cadet and nursing student and RN at Columbia Teachers' College in Manhattan. Her clinical work included Bellevue Hospital and its public wards, infamous for accepting indigent sufferers and derelicts of every description. After graduation she taught nursing at New Paltz State teachers College. She was an early organizer of a nurses' union and remained involved for the rest of her life.

In 1947, she married artist Charles Keller (1914-2006). They shared progressive, Marxist, and anti-racist political activism. They moved to Croton-on-Hudson, built a house, and had the first of three children. They moved in 1952 to the Danskammer collective farm near Newburgh, NY, had two more children, and worked with the nascent farmworkers union there. They helped organize protest marches, hootenannies and concerts performed by Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, Les Rice, and others. Judith remembered attending the infamous 1949 Paul Robeson concert in Peekskill that was attacked by the Ku Klux Klan and other white supremacists with the help of the New York State Troopers. During the era of McCarthyism and red-baiting, they were active in the anti-HUAC (House Un-American Committee) movement and related partisan causes.

In 1961, with their confiscated passports restored, Judith and Charles moved the family to Rome, Italy, returning in the 1970s. During the Rome years, they were active in the anti-Vietnam War movement, organizing events with Gore Vidal and other expatriates. Judith participated in organizing a women's movement there. She also worked in the film industry that in Italy in the 1960s was thriving, serving as Assistant Director of voice-over dubbing of the sound tracks of Italian movies (notably numerous "spaghetti westerns") for export to English-speaking markets.

Returning to New York City, she resided in a West Greenwich Village apartment that she occupied for the rest of her life. During that period, she wrote magazine articles on travel and culture and produced award-winning videos and films on geriatric and feminist themes that she distributed under the name Tricepts Productions, including Rose by Any Other Name, and Woman: Who Is Me?. She also wrote several plays including Funny Feeling which had a celebrity-performed stage reading at the Chandler Music Hall in Randolph, Vermont in 2010.

Judith passed away in New York City at age 91 on March 23, 2017. Her love and caring humanity is deeply missed by an international circle of friends and family. She is survived by her two brothers, Burton Herman and Theodore Herman, three children, Marthe Keller-Ensminger, Daniel Keller, and Kathryn Keller-Rule, and three grandchildren, Alexi Keller, Cara Keller, and Colter Rule III, and was recently preceded in death by her elder sister Shirley Gerstein. She is interred in the Baker Street Jewish Cemeteries, West Roxbury, MA. A memorial ceremony was held in Chestnut Hill, MA, on August 22, 2017.


Marthe, Dan, and Katy Keller Beloved Family and Friends,

0ur dear Mom, Judith Jewel Herman Keller passed away on March 23 from complications including pneumonia after a fall in her apartment. Judy had a gradual and peaceful passing. Katy and I were at her bedside along with her devoted aides, Ana and Marcia. Our brother Dan in California, Judy's brothers, Ted and Burt, their children and our spouses, Brad and Colter were all in close touch with us throughout. Judy received superb end care at Beth Israel and we felt well supported.

Judy lived out her wish to remain at home on 12th street until the end. She was able to enjoy visits from family and friends. Instead of a funeral, she made clear she wanted a party in celebration of her life. We are planning that for the Fall around her birthday in September. Will let you know, of course.

Here are some favorite pictures including one taken on March 16th at the closing of Marthe's exhibition. She had a great time as you can see.

At 92, Judy had lived a long, rich and creative life full of love and drama. She was an early feminist, political activist, courageous adventurer, pioneering filmmaker, writer, and proud RN, loving mom, sister, grandmother, aunt and dear friend to so many. We will miss her every day. 1925 - 2017 RIP Mom.

With love from Marthe, Dan and Katy

Libby Keller Savitz Hi Cuzzes,

We just heard the sad news from Jane about Judy.

I just wanted to say how sorry we are about your loss and how much we all loved her. She was one of the good ones. I have so many great memories of her and many of them involve fun and laughter.

What stands out immediately, though, is my memory of how she came to North Carolina when our mother was dying and helped to look after her. Her kindness and tenderness at that time helped my father, Anne, and me get through it.

David and I looked forward on a number of occasions to staying with her in New York in her delightful apartment and admiring how she managed all those stairs like a mountain goat. She always made us feel welcome.

Years ago, when we talked about end-of-life, she told me that she thought she could manage to stay in her apartment until the end. She thought she had figured out how to manage getting the things that she would need and the care that she would need. What she didn't say was that she could never have managed that without the three of you taking care of her. She was very lucky to have her daughters nearby and to have their wonderful care of her so that her wish could be fulfilled.

Strange to think that we are now the older generation. I hope we can manage to live out our days with the grace, humor, gusto and elegance of Judith Herman Keller.

David joins me in sending much love to you all.

PS: are you planning any kind of memorial gathering?

Hi Dan,

I had forgotten about the yarn but I remembered after you mentioned it. That visit was right before your family moved to Rome. My strongest memory of your visit was that Charles brought a record called "Stan Freburg (sp.?) Modestly Presents : The United States of America, The Early Years". It was hilarious and Anne and I practically memorized it. We still quote it.

We all laughed so much whenever we were together. Even the trip to visit you in Rome was a comic balm to our bruised spirits after our Mother died. Your mom especially made us so welcome. She also was great about helping me understand for the first time how my words and actions might be perceived in a different culture. And she did it with such kindness that I felt privileged.

I look forward to seeing you in August and sharing more memories. Also looking forward to seeing your kids and meeting Marge. Also can you please send me your snail mail address? XoL ??

Sent from my iPhone...
Libby Keller

Anne Keller Sinclair Dear Cuzzes,

I'm tagging onto Libby's message, because she said it so well. I'm sorry that you and we won't be with her again. What a loss of a beautiful person.

She meant the world to me, and as Libby said, those days when she helped as our mother was dying were an experience of boundless compassion, generosity, and calm loving support. I remember the comfort I felt being with her and having her with our mother to this day.

When my college friend and I stayed with her in Rome for a couple of weeks, she was warm, welcoming and darned fun! We all sat around that large dining room table reading the first issue of Ms. Magazine. She was there at some mind-blowing moments of my life.

Warmth, humor, irreverence, intimacy, intelligence, independence, creativity, determination and love were some of her fine qualities. I'll cherish those memories and the fact that she gave herself to each of us in wonderful, meaningful ways.

I'll miss her.

I hope you're all finding comfort and peace in these days. And frankly, as she slipped away from her robust former self, I hope there's relief that she doesn't have to do that part anymore.

Lloyd really loved her too, and sends his love to you.

Much love,

Marthe, Dan and Katy,

Thanks for sending more details and these incredible photos. The last one of her sitting by the fire is bringing tears and a big lump to the throat. She was so special, as you know I've said many times. Lloyd loved, admired, and enjoyed her too. She leaves a void in the Keller Herman families, and yet she left us with so much heartfelt legacy. I'm very grateful we had her in all of our lives. I'll miss her.

Hope there's peace along with grief. You did so well with and for her. She loved all of you and you made her proud. And she doesn't have to deal with life that was getting harder, nor do you.

Sending you much love and there will be hugs when we can.
Anne and Lloyd

Tony Keller Dear Marthe, Katy and Dan,

Earlier this evening Karen and I were talking about your mom during the intermission of a chamber music concert at the Chandler Center for the Arts here in Randolph,VT. The audience was seated on the stage, which reminded us of a session Judith held on the same stage with local theater people in October, 2010 when Funny Feeling came to Vermont.

After the concert when we returned home, we got Jane's email letting the family know the news about Judith.

Such a remarkable presence, even when she was so diminished.

The time with her seven years ago was magical. I'll try to write about it in the next few days -- and will also send you some of the photos Karen took of her then.

Meanwhile, know that we're thinking loving thoughts of you and your family circle.

Marthe and Katy -- you have been angels.

More soon.

Jane Keller Herzig Dear All,

I just got off the phone with Dan Keller. He told me that Judy passed away two days ago (March 23). Dan gave me the go ahead to spread the sad news.

Even though Judy had severe dementia, she was able to live independently in her amazing fifth (?) floor walkup. Marthe and Katy are the heroes that made this possible. A recent fall was what precipitated Judy's demise.

Judy was a remarkable and dynamic woman. I am thankful she was able to attend Camp-Us XVIII and be with our growing clan. We will miss our family matriarch this summer.

Dan will be attending Camp-Us IX with Cara and Alexi and his girlfriend Marge.

Love to you all,

Carol Bahbout Dear Marthe, Dan & Katy & families,

All the Bahbouts are very sad today to hear about the loss of Judy. Although she has been missing from Giglio for some years her presence remains very strong there. So many eagerly anticipated arrivals & sad farewells marked the summers. She was a great friend & a fun, dedicated surrogate grandmother. I'm so glad we had some time together last August. Thinking of you all,



Robert Keller Dear Marthe, Dan, and Katy

Barbara joins me in sending you our condolences and love about the loss of your Mom.

I was fortunate in visiting with Judy a couple of months ago on my way back to Boston. She did know who I was after a little while and enjoyed our visit.

We had a long history. I remember Charles & Judy's wedding in Brookline or maybe in Boston. It was the first wedding I ever attended and Tony and I had a lot of fun hanging around with Teddy who we thought was quite a guy.

One of my favorite memories of her was playing tennis at one of the Camp Us gatherings. She was a fierce competitor.

We look forward to seeing you all this summer.

Love, Bob

Betsy Keller Kagan from Bob Dear Dan, Marthe and Katy

I spoke with Betsy yesterday and she sends her condolences to you. She reminded me that when she lived in NYC, she saw Judy often and worked with her on her nursing home videos. (Betsy did a lot of movement work at elderly housing communities which she pointed out was very related to Judy's work.) She told me how much she loved your Mom. She remembers one special trip to New York to see her. And she wanted you to know that she has had a major problem with her computer and could not communicate to you directly. She also wanted Dan to know that she spoke at George Johnson's memorial service in 2014. George was a very good friend.

Andrea Miller Keller Dearest Ones: Marthe, Katy and Dan,

It is impossible to imagine Judy's vivacity is not alive and well. We all still carry so many, many warm and vibrant memories of her within us still.

Judy was inspiring and accomplished and admirable in so many, many various ways.

I send each of you three a special individual hug and much, much love to all in your extended clan .

Thank you all so much for sharing the beautiful selection of marvelous photographic images with us all. Wonderful to behold!

I am hoping for a time when we can all share memorable and heartfelt recollections of your remarkable and lovely mother sometime in the very near future.

Meanwhile, with healing hugs and much, much love to each of you!
xoxo Cousin Andy

Stephen Lubell Dear Marthe, Katy and Dan,

My condolences to all of you and your families on the death of Judy. Judy and Charlie were friends of my parents, Winnie and Cecil Lubell, from Croton and we kept in touch after their family moved to Rome. The attached photo is captioned (by Winnie): Croton Ossining Interacial club WML, Judy Keller, Vivian Alston, Joyce Williams and others. I would assume that it was in some ways connected to the local CP group. I would date it from the early to mid-1950s.

I was pleased that I could spend a few days with Judy in October 2016. She was brave and uncomplaining in spite of her health problems. I asked her about her memories of Croton from that period but she didn't (or didn't want to) remember much.

With best wishes,

Camilla Trinchieri Dear Marthe,

I am so sorry. Judy was a fantastic woman who welcomed me when I moved here. Franca stayed with her when I got married and the day after Judy hosted a brunch for my family. Generous to a fault, strong, talented, opinionated in a good way. I shall always be grateful to her.

The last time I saw her was painful as she did not remember her life. I filled her in with what I knew. She didn't seem to believe me.

I will never forget her.

A hug,

Raffaella Depero Dear Marthe and and Katy and Dan,

Thank you for the beautiful photos of your mom, my dear friend Judy. I loved her very much and she did the same. I will never forget the emotion that I felt when once in her house I found pictures of my granddaughters attached on her fridge. She has been always so dear! She has been able to be friend even with younger people, like my daughter Serena. I told Serena the sad news and she too misses Judy very much. We all had lost Judy years ago, but her smile and her warmth will be with us for as long as we live. We feel privileged for having had Judy in our lives.

Thank you so much for your beautiful email.

A big hug with love,

Leslie Haas Emanuel Sending my love to all of you during this time of loss.

I have such amazing memories of Judy from our years in Rome & Giglio <3

Eric Richmond Dear Marthe and Katy and Dan,

Thank you for including me in the news about Judy.

My mother Pat, who was a friend of Judy's, also passed away earlier this year... They were born in the same year, and both lived long, long lives. They will be missed.

Six months ago, my wife Alison and I walked past your portone on Via del Gesu, and I told her about the many times I'd hung out there with Dan. I remember Judy taking Dan and me to the Vatican Museum to see the Laocoon, back in the days of yore, when the museum was virtually empty. We were so blessed to have experienced Rome before the hordes of tourists that now make Rome so challenging to one's nostalgia.

The photographs of Judy are wonderful, and one sees that she aged beautifully.

I send my condolences, and best wishes.

Ruth Hardinger It was a great pleasure to meet her and to have Thanksgivings together several years ago. What I knew of her was a precious person. Your writing is lovely!

Much love,

John Blount Hi Dan, Katy and Marthe,

I'm very sorry to hear that. Condolences to you all. I remember Judy with fondness having known her since I was about 10 years old in the early 60s.

John Blount

Jordan Geiger Dear Kellers,

I know, you wrote, no need to respond. But in fact I do; I hope that this indulgence won’t bother you all. I have told this to Marthe but want to also say a few words to you all.

Your mom was always my favorite friend of my parents when I was a kid. She talked to me like I was a person, she asked things, she laughed, she hosted, she came along, she had stories that I could enjoy, she had beautiful things from Italy that I could learn about. Better still, she felt like a real friend to me as an adult. Then she was a steady support and a friend to me, putting me up and giving me good cheer and good coffee during my own mother's last days in hospice at Beth Israel. It altered my whole experience of this major life moment for the better. I love your mom a lot, and I'll always feel really thankful for having had her in my life. I'm also really happy to know you guys (well, ok, Katy, we haven't seen each other in decades, but still!).

Much love to you all. Be well.


Laurie Munn I am so very sorry and sad. Judy was such a courageous, beautiful, humorous and major influence in my adolescent life. Our family always talked about how funny and creative your parents both were and my mother adored Judy. I am happy she was able to be in her own home till the end.

I am sending you my love and sympathy.

Jacob Burckhardt Dear Marthe, Katy, and Dan,

My condolences. She was the same age as Edith! She's beautiful in the pictures.


Larry Mufson Thank you.

You know I've always had this thing for all Keller women -- mostly for Judy -- thanks for including us.

Gail Pheterson Dearest Marthe, Dan and Katy,

I just received your message and I'm trying to absorb the news. I saw you, Dan, in San Francisco a month ago so I knew Judy was having a hard time. And, Marthe and Katy, I've known about your intense devoted loving caretaking for some time. Judy's death should not be a shock to me given her struggle these last years and her age. But it is a shock and it will take me some time to absorb. I can only imagine the feelings you three must be experiencing. Please know that I am thinking strongly of you all and remeniscing about your lives with Judy - and Charles - in Rome and then and then. I didn't know you all in Rome, but Gosina told me so many stories that I feel I'd been there, or perhaps feel that my place is to conjure the memory of Gosina - and Josephine - as figures on that early landscape of the Keller family.

It has been many years since I last saw Judy, although I did speak to her on the phone more recently. I believe the last time I saw her was in 2011 when my dear friend Claude Maillols (who died in 2014) gave a concert in New York; Claude and I visited Judy in her apartment and then Judy came to the concert. Marthe, you and Brad also attended the event and the dinner afterwards. It has been even longer since my regular overnights at Judy's apartment while visiting New York from Amsterdam and then from Paris. At first I stayed there with Gosina, and then more often on my own. Judy and I became friends in our own right, and she introduced me to her wonderful talented three children. She was so proud of each of you. Marthe, you and I are exactly the same age but to me you were the oldest daughter of my dear friend 25 years my senior.

During those overnights on 12th Street, Judy and I would talk about "everything" til all hours of the night, and then she'd give me a play-in-process to read so we could discuss it over coffee the next day at her round marble table with the great view of trees and rooftops outside and beautiful paintings inside. She would slide, rather than walk, around the room to polish the parquet, something I have done at home in Paris ever since. I'm sure everyone loves that apartment and sure Judy was eternally grateful to you for making it possible for her to stay home.

The three of you are the children of my beloved friend, Judy, and you have become forever friends to me.

I love you all,

Candy Kugel Thank you for sharing the news -- I was very fond of your mother and would love to help celebrate her life in the fall. My sincere condolences to you all.

Best wishes, Candy

Dawn Starin I feel sad, very sad. But also relieved to know that her decline was a peaceful one. I remember her as a vibrant, beautiful, caring, intelligent woman. When she was younger and we were very much younger, she was a role model for what a woman could be when we had very few role models. In her last few years beneath her dementia I could still sense the younger Judy shining through: vibrant, beautiful, and caring. I am glad that I had a chance to know her when I was younger and to see her with Martha when we were all so much older.
Lillian Garber Dear Marthe:

Much appreciation for including me on the list of friends. The news is sad for me.

We lived near each other and shared Senior High. Not sure if we also shared years before that, but I think we did.

I loved her dearly. She wrote me off when I was unkind to Pearl Levin. I spoke from the top of my head and sure, I should not have done so. Pearl married a controlling man who would not let her have any relationship that he didn't approve. Being a loyal friend, I was deeply hurt. I cried on her mother's shoulder. She understood and she kept in touch with me because she knew how much I cared.

Interestingly enough, Pearl called me to see if I had any maternity clothes she could borrow. I didn’t share with her that I was also pregnant, expecting at the same time. I don't remember when she divorced her husband. Good move.

Do you know from Judy's conversations with your Mom if she had correspondence with Pearl and if Pearl is still alive? I would try to get in touch with her. Her daughter lives in Lexington very close to me, but I don't remember her name. All pre computer.

Please tell me what charity I can make in Judy's name? Maybe the Beth Israel Hospital where she became a graduate nurse.

Janet Clark Tindlund Judith was my favorite person.

The most inspiring, interesting, funny, generous - she was the best. We are so very sad to hear of her passing.

We had the privilege of having Judith just upstairs from us for 9 years at 22 West 12th. We lucked out. She was our family in NYC. We were endlessly welcome in her cozy living room - always a fire burning - and over the years of great friendship we enjoyed many stories and learned much of her amazing life. I've missed deeply since we moved to Cape Town.

One thing I did not know after all these years was that her second name was Jewel. She was the rarest, one-of-a-kind with the best sparkle!

Judith has been a great inspiration to me and will always be in my heart.

Thank you for letting us know.

Much love,
Janet & Andreas

Helmut Kapczynski and Colleen Neff Dear Marthe, Dan and Brad,

Please acccept our heartfelt condolences on your loss of Judy. We will always remember her as inquisitive, vivacious and kind. During the visit at the ranch in 2003 she commented that the place felt honest and I took pride that she felt that way about something close to my heart.

Love and Peace,
Helmut and Colleen

Chris Barnum I wrote this as just one of the many great memories of Mom's friend who became my friend. Thought I would share it with you.

When I first moved to Delaware in the early 80s, I would often visit Manhattan, and stopping in to see Judy or spend some time doing something in the Village with her. She was always generous, and would sometimes provide a space to sleep if other options weren't working out. After one of these "rescues" I decided to give her a gift. I had gotten a set of Cutco knives, and loved them, so I bought her a knife which came in a nice box. Upon receiving it she thanked me, and said something to the effect of, "The knife is very nice, and I think I can find a spot for it in my apartment. However, there is no place for the box, and it has to go." Others might have disposed of it without mention, yet for Judy, the kindness, and consciousness of space combined to this end. Though it has been a while since I have seen her, loving thoughts and memories of her remain in my heart.

Chris Barnum

Lola and Jesse Meyers Dear Marty and Dan and Katy-

What a wonderful heart-warming compilation of family photos. The photo of Judy looking at the fireplace will long stay in our memories.

Sincere condolences to you all.
-Lola and Jesse Meyers

Peter R. Keller Dear Dan,

I want to express my condolences over your loss of Judy... She was a great and gutsy lady. I especially remember being amazed over her valiant effort to scramble up that climbing wall at Camp Us in 2013!

She will be missed for many things, but most particularly for her cheerful good humor.

With all my love,

Minerva T. Keller Dear Danny:

With much sadness I learned that Judy is no longer with us.

She was for me a great example of how to age gracefully. I have fond memories of my last visit with her, always cheerful!

Looking forward to seeing you this summer.


Judith Page Dear Marthe, Dan and Katy,

I was so sorry to hear about Judy but glad that I was able to see her at the open studio at Charles' old apartment. Lovely to see the photo collection, especially the blog that Dan put together. I was quite surprised to see the terrific photo of Judy in green blouse next to some of my green paintings. I am not sure where it was taken but I assume it was an open studio.

Mostly I knew Judy from working with Charles, especially his version of the "scissoring" of his paintings, but he always spoke so sadly about that part of his life and positively about Judy that I regret knowing her only through infrequent meetings at Marthe's art exhibitions. You were so fortunate to have had her with you for so many years.

Love to you all,

Rhoda Poetzl Billingsley Forgive the delay but I was away.

So sorry to hear the news. She was a great lady and I have fond memories of some times together. She will be missed, I'm sure.

My condolences to all of you.

Alexi Keller Wonderful pictures, especially the ones where she is younger. That's the Judy I never met. In my last two trips to NY I've learned a lot of cool things about Judy I didn't know before.

I think she hasn't left the apartment. The other day I heard a distinct knock at the door and went to check. No one there. The hinge mechanism also randomly disconnected from her antique dresser in her bedroom the other night when me and Katy went to open it. The nails literally fell out and the metal mechanism clanked onto the floor. A piece of furniture that held up for at least 50 years all of a sudden falls apart, who knows? Can't blame her for sticking around, who knows if there is rent control in the afterlife.

Anneli Katriina Keller I knew Judith for 32 years.

There are many wonderful memories from horseback riding in Giglio to sailing in Finland and our unforgettable trip to Russia in 1986 (in those days, the Soviet Union.) I'll never forget my father's proud smile when he held Judith's hand when we crossed a busy intersection in Leningrad (St. Petersburg). After visiting in Finland, Judith was my mother Hilkka's pen-pal for decades.

I cherish my visits to New York and how welcomed and loved I always felt in her cozy home. Those many nights sitting and talking until the morning hours.

And the shopping trips to her favorite farmer's market in Union Square, where she would introduce me as her daughter.

I will never forget Judith, my New York Mom.

Love, Anneli

Nigel Noble I am sorry to hear the sad news. Sincere condolences to you all. She was a lovely gentle soul. Please let me know about a memorial.


Jacky Bahbout Dear Marthe, Katy and Dan

I was so sorry to hear the news about Judy. She is such an important presence in me and Nicole's childhood and in our memories. Our summer holidays on Giglio growing up were magical in no small part thanks to Judy.

I remember the countdown to her arrival every year, spending days colouring in welcome signs, then waiting excitedly at the gate of the Granchiolino for her to appear at the top of the hill. I remember those first few mornings of every visit, our mum trying to teach us about patience as we eagerly waited outside the casetta for her to emerge, bleary eyed from jet-lag and the too-early wake-up call of two impatient little girls playing just a little bit too noisily outside her bedroom window.

It was thanks to Judy that we also learnt it's not polite to ask guests when they're leaving as soon as they arrive at your house. I think it was Dawn who asked, and in true Judy spirit, she arrived the following summer with t-shirts printed with "when ya leaving Jude?!"

I used to live for sleep overs in her room... admiring her Khiels lotions and potions and endlessly fascinated by her waterpic contraption - almost enough to make a seven year old want to brush her teeth! The long afternoons where she and Heather would sit on the terrace comparing address books and phone numbers and catch up on everyone's latest details... and gossip. I remember the joy waking up from afternoon naps to go and work with Judy on our latest project - whether it was building a doll's house together or sending the latest edition of the Granchiolino News to print. I remember her old Mac - the old kind with the multicoloured apple logo - long before everyone had one. Her endless patience and enthusiasm... And then there were the long games of tennis in the evenings, and the just-as-important chats between sets about art, acting and filmmaking and feminism. I found what I knew about her own life inspirational -- how she learnt filmmaking when you all moved back to the States, and having done the nurse career then the mum career, started something completely new... and of course her writing. I still think of Judy when I'm on Giglio and battling with the temptation to lounge like a beached lizard all day when I know I have work to be getting on with... and I think of her typing away on her Mac in the room upstairs and how she always managed to be so productive every day. Her yellow lined paper and boxes of pencils...

And apart from all the fun, there were serious things she taught me too. Serious things that I'm seriously grateful for. Judy was the one who taught me to accept a compliment. I was probably about 8 and would squirm at the mere whiff of praise and I'll never forget the kind chat she had with me in the room by the pingpong table, where she helped me see there was another way to take it. And just like that I started saying "thank you" when I got a compliment... and my god what a relief! It sounds cheesy but it's true - something just clicked that day and I still am so grateful your mum took the time to sit me down.

I could go on and on, but all this to say that your gorgeous mum has a big place in my heart. She's still there when I go into a bookshop to choose a present for a friend's child, and my mind drifts back to all the wonderful books she used to bring us, and how she'd ask for recommendations from the bookshop staff and keep lists from one year to the next so she didn't bring us the same book twice.

I think what I remember most is her generosity in every way: her infinite patience and availability, her genuine interest in asking us questions and willingness to listen to all our stories and thoughts and opinions... It's no small thing, for a child, to feel so valued and loved. I hope she had some idea of how much we loved her too.

Thinking of you all at what must be a very difficult time, and sending you so much love. Hope to catch up with all of you at some point - in London, New York, Giglio or Rome

Big baci
Jacky xxx

Helena, Judy, Anneli, Pekka sailing in Finland
Katy Keller Dear Jacky,

Thank you for these exquisite and poignant memories.

As we work through the clearing out of Judy's gem-like garret on 12th street, the Bahbout presence is infused everywhere. Photos of you at every age... zillions of transformers and plugs to get her Mac and water pick to work on Italian current... McDonald's clippings, articles, stories... Granchiolino News and Giglio correspondence... and all the leather items, belts, bags, caftans... carbon-dating through Jacques' evolution in the leather business from the earliest days in Istanbul to the re-sale shop, leather factories and ritzy stores in Rome, culminating in Burberry London and Smythson New York!

Oh, indeed she knew how much you loved her... the love and inspiration was mutual.

Rome and Giglio the highlights of our childhoods and the sustaining connection throughout Judy's mature years.

Stretto abbraccio, tantissimi baci,

Andrea Miller Keller Dearest Ones: Marthe, Katy and Dan,

It is impossible to imagine Judy's vivacity is not alive and well. We all still carry so many, many warm and vibrant memories of her within us still.

Judy was inspiring and accomplished and admirable in so many, many various ways.

I send each of you three a special individual hug and much, much love to all in your extended clan .

Thank you all so much for sharing the beautiful selection of marvelous photographic images with us all. Wonderful to behold!

I am hoping for a time when we can all share memorable and heartfelt recollections of your remarkable and lovely mother sometime in the very near future.

Meanwhile, with healing hugs and much, much love to each of you!
xoxo Cousin Andy

Beverly and Gordon Nelson Dear Marte, Katy and Dan,

Many years ago I went to an art event at a woman's college in St. Paul. A Native American woman was performing a ritual, burning messages carried in smoke to deceased loved ones. She said when we lose our mother we mourn the loss of Mother's Love which is a love that exists nowhere else. It is gone from our world. Every day we long to remember it.

Judy was a wonder. She lived life with grace, beauty, generosity, and wisdom. I was blessed to know and love her. She always believed in me and lifted me up with her positive spirit. Thank you for sharing her. She is missed.

With affection and gratitude,

Marian Nielsen Dear Dan,

I remember with such pleasure the happy, co-grand-parenting occasions we enjoyed with Judy. What a vibrant -- perhaps an overworked word but it suits her -- individual she was. Strength, talent, independence, all of which she had in abundance. We loved looking at the pictures and tribute you posted that Sally shared with us.

In addition to talent and strength, Judy had such style. She always, even in her latter days when it must have been difficult, looked wonderful for the camera, an art we women do value.

I know you treasure many happy memories. Enjoy them.

With love and sympathy,

Sally Nielsen Judy was such an amazing amalgam of the traits we find in the most compelling personalities -- meticulous and devil-may-care -- compassionate, funny, fierce, creative, independent, and thoughtful.

The time Cara (at 18 months) and I spent with her in Spanocchia was magical -- the memories will always be strong: extended dinners in the dusk on the narrow terrace, bats in the bedrooms, the castle with the chickens and the swimming pool, the Palio, and the local horseback riders who galloped by spewing dust.

Through the years, Judy gave generously of New York theatre experiences and showed us around the Village. She introduced me to sewing needles that do not require squinched-eye threading, the importance of Jewish rye to pot roast, and shared with us many times the pleasures of breakfast toast and coffee in her most-often sun-drenched apartment.

She was beautiful and wore jewelry with great taste and panache.

The last time I saw her (spring 2015), she gave me consistent and encouraging advice about work and life.

With a full heart and much love,

Tony Keller Dear dear Marthe, Katy & Dan --

On April 15, at a seder held at Alex and Frazer's in Northampton, we took time out during the service to remember Judy. We wish you could have been with us to hear the warm expressions of love for your mom and for you three.

Here's who was seated around the table: Ed and Jane Herzig, Michael Herzig, Rachelle Gandica and kids Becca, Jake and Nate, Jim Keller and Mary Ellen Hoy, Susannah Keller & Adam Lauring's son Noah, Carolyn Herzig, Emily Keller, Barbara and Bob Keller, Rachel Keller, Cesar Lopez Hilleger and son Zev, Andrea Miller-Keller, Alexandra Keller and Frazer Ward and their kids Ava and Max, Karen Petersen and Tony Keller, Hillary Keller and Fran Dunn, Paul Savitz, and Emma Savitz.

We're looking forward to remembering her again as a family at the August reunion -- and to showing her fabulous vintage Camp-Us film.

The Seder 28

Hillary Keller Dear Marthe, Katy, and Dan,

I was sure that I sent out an email in response a month ago but do not see it in my sent box. Oh dear!! While the month has changed, my feelings about remarkable, vibrant Judy have not! I loved and admired your mom so much and am very grateful to have some really warm and wonderful memories of her.

As Jane wrote, we will miss our matriarch at this summer's Camp Us. I am looking forward to a time of sharing about Judy and a chance to hear from others their recollections. And how wonderful that you, Dan, and Alexi and Cara will be with us. Are we also fortunate to get you, Marthe and Katy (and Brad and the Colters)? I really hope so. I have a special hug for you two, My Sisters In The Sometimes Herculean But Ultimately So Worth It Efforts in the Mom-supporting front lines.

Sending you all loving and healing thoughts,
XOXO Hillary

Cara Keller In thinking about Judy, I am reminded of her fearlessness, her passion, and her commitment to getting her hands dirty, to actually doing the work that I am so often only able to talk about doing. I am beyond grateful to and in endless admiration of my family for their care of her in the last several years, and regret not having taken more opportunity to spend time with her when I could have. Her appreciation of beauty, her exploration of life's mysticism while remaining fully rooted in concrete reality, her defense of justice, science, and truth, are all qualities I would be lucky to emulate in my life. Hers was full and grand. Her impact is tangible, and her presence is greatly missed.
Jodi Luby Please accept my deep sympathy for the loss of your mother. It is a profound shift, one that will likely never leave you, as I can attest a year and a half after my own mother's death.

Rejoice in each other and your own extended families. You are some of the most vibrant people I know, a quality I am certain is derived in part from your terrific mother.

Please know that I share your sadness.


Philippe, Mireille, Laure Coromines and Jean-Jacques Gaulon Dear Martha, Brad, Katy, Colter and Dan,

JJ told us that Judith passed away. This is a very sad piece of news.

We all thought that nothing could destroy her. Mireille and I were in NY when she was told that she had to do chemo and we both remember how Judith and Katy handled this. With dignity and courage. We will never forget the lesson she gave us.

We will neither forget her open-mindedness and the generous person she was. If all of you have become the wonderful persons you are, you owe it to her and your father too.

We all know there is no such a place where we will all meet again the ones we loved, but there still is some kind of eternity: the memory we will always keep until the end of our days.

It is a wonderful thing that despite miles and years we are all still in touch, as if there were no yesterday.

With all our love, tender thoughts to all of you. Just come over to France for a full love embrace

David Meyer I'm so sorry to read that your Mom passed.

As you know, she was always so lovely to me. I always felt I could see her soul shining through her smile, and her genuine, tough-ass kindness. Nobody's going to forget her.

I know the last few years have been tough, and you gave her so much love and care.

Thinking of you and sending my love,

Leslie Herman Dear Cousins Marthe, Dan and Katy,

I'm so embarrassed it has taken me so long to send my condolences and thank you for including me in your initial email.

I was so very sorry to hear about Aunt Judy's passing in March. Your mom was one of the most amazing people I knew! I only wish I could have spent more time with her (and you all too) growing up! It's been a long time since I last saw her -- I'm thinking possibly 15 years ago? How can that be? But I will always remember what a fun loving, beautiful, caring, and cool person she was!

I absolutely loved looking at the pictures and reading the letters everyone posted on the memorial website. They reminded me of what a truly special person your mom was, and how loved she was. She had the most beautiful smile!

I was really hoping to be at her memorial celebration, and am so saddened that I won't be able to make it, and hear more wonderful stories about your mom (and Aunt Shirley too). Truly two great women from a most amazing family!

Well, I'm not great with words (unlike my Dad), but wanted you all to know how truly sorry I am that she is no longer with us. I've been thinking about you all for the last several months... Hope to see you one day soon!

Sending you lots of hugs and love,

Laura Herman Winter Greetings Keller cousins,

Just wanted to reach out to you on this special weekend to send my (very belated) condolences, thoughts, and love! I wish I could be there for the memorial service... I know it will be lovely and very meaningful!

Your mom (our Aunt Judy) was one in a million! She was our "cool" aunt and while distance made it difficult to see her regularly, it was undoubtedly a joyful experience when we did get to visit. I always enjoyed hearing what she was up to whether the stories were shared by her or my dad. Aunt Judy's zest for life and positive attitude have made an indelible impression on me and I will always remember with such fondness her great big hugs, warm, generous smile, and sparkling eyes. She was truly beautiful inside and out!

Reading through the tributes and looking at the wonderful pictures on the website have reminded me just how lucky I was to call her my aunt. While I wish we had lived closer, I feel lucky for the time we did have together. I am also including a few pictures that I dug up.

I'll be thinking of you tomorrow and sending "great big Aunt Judy hugs".

With love, Laura

Judy and beloved cousin Simon from Toronto (back row) and Laura, Robert Shirley (front row)

Gosina Mandersloot and Judy at Gosina's farmhouse in Massa Martana (near Perugia, Italy)

Judy, Gail Pheterson, Gosina
Tricepts Productions -- Judy's videography
Tony Keller and Karen Petersen Dear Marthe, Katy and Dan ---

Karen and I were thinking of you Monday as you said farewell to your mom. We hope the day went as you hoped it would and that you felt the ceremony in West Roxbury, along with the remembrance at Camp-Us, were a meaningful pair of celebrations of Judy's life for everyone who participated.

We loved her and felt privileged to be witness to her great courage, her wit, her creativity, her playfulness, her intellect. I thought she was magic when, as an eight-year-old, I was one of the little kids at her wedding. Being her buddy for the Funny Feeling adventure over seventy years later was a wonderful way of rounding out a lifetime of admiration for her.

What a feeling it must have been to go from Judy's interment to unveiling Shirley's headstone and then visit your grandparents' graves. At least with Ted and Burt there it wasn't the end of an era.

Our love to you three. Lovely to be with you at the reunion.

K & T

Katy Keller Dear Karen and Tony,

Deepest gratitude for your eloquence and participation in the peak events of Judy's life! You have captured Judy's essence in your words and deeds better than I can express.

Getting Funny Feeling to a staged reading on the Chandler stage was a momentous endeavor and the most gratifying experience of Judy's final years... For which we thank you and Karen beyond measure.

And thank you, too, for starting off the tributes to Judy at Camp-Us with a very touching recap of Funny Feeling. We found it hard to put words to feelings and evoke Judy's formidable life. Thank you for taking the lead in the moment.

All that followed in the cemetery in West Roxbury, MA, and then Falls Village, CT, went beautifully.

With love,
Katy (speaking for Dan and Marthe, too, I think)

Marthe Keller Thank you so much dear Tony, Katy definitely speaks for me too.

I was rather tongue-tied at Camp-Us, so I was relieved that you took up the slack.

We can't say enough how grateful we are for your belief in and support of Judy's play. It gave her a huge boost of satisfaction and pride.

Love always to you and Karen,

Katy Keller Dear Tony and Karen,

Funny Feeling at The Chandler was pinnacle of Judy's playwright ambitions.

xoxo Katy

Tony Keller Katy --

What a delight it was to watch her enjoying that pinnacle.


Carole Herman King Friday, March 24, 2017

Dear Auntie J. --

You died last night. I miss ya and love ya. I am so grateful that I got to see ya on Monday, but not for the reasons you might expect. You -- the vibrant, curious, empathetic you -- had departed a while ago. On Monday I was grateful to see the way your oldest child was caring for what was left of you. Marthe was gentle but insistent with her 90 year-old, 80 pound child.

There is no defined road map in these situations so the Keller children did all they could and made the right decisions to care for you as your body and mind slowly descended into the inevitable. It was during this final chapter of your life that we saw your greatest accomplishments. Marthe, Katy, and Dan are the embodiments of your special brand of love. I know you are proud.

Grief calls upon us to search our memories for the perfect moment to enshrine. A single scene to recite to others that captures the essence of a loved one. Your life was filled with many triumphant occasions that could serve this purpose. Instead, I am choosing to internalize an indescribable essence that was my Auntie J. I hope that my way in this world is forevermore influenced by your spirit.


Chester Higgins, Jr.

My sincere condolences on the transitioning of your Mother. She was such a strong Spirit. As you know, she was so proud of her children. If service to others is the price we pay for taking up space on the planet, then your Mother's fee is fully paid.

Saw the judithjewel website. Done so well. Finally, only three years remaining for Trump.

Thu, Feb 1, 2018

Re: Judith Keller in the NY Times today In Memoriam

Marthe Keller

Dear Family,

Today, Dan posted a notice in the NY Times for Keller- Judith Jewel Herman. It has been almost a year since Judy's passing and we wanted to honor her. She will be in our hearts forever.

With all our love, hugs and kisses,
Marthe, Dan and Katy

Burt Herman

Very nice!

Not a day goes by that I don't think of my sisters.

Much love to you all,

Jane Herzig

We saw it! A beautiful tribute in memory of a magnificent and multi-talented woman. She blessed us with her gifts.

Love to all J

Mary Ellen Hoy

Lovely tribute.

Fondly, Mary Ellen

Anne Keller

It is a beautiful tribute to one who made deep, lasting, and loving connections with humanity in general and in specific. I am who I am, in no small part, because she loved and cared for me. She gave so much to so many and provided a model for a well-lived life.

Love to all...Anne

Libby Keller

Well put, Anne. She was very dear to us.

Carl Robichaud

Beautiful tribute. I learned a great deal about her life, and we'll be sharing it with the boys tonight. What a remarkable woman!

Much love, Carl

Anthony Keller

Last Saturday night Karen and I went to a staged reading at Chandler Center for the Arts here in Randolph, VT.

The play, TranScripts, Part 1: The Women, told by seven transgender women, written by Paul Lucas, had been produced twice before -- at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and at the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge. The script, taken from conversations Lucas had with 75 trans women in the U.S, Australia, England, India, Cuba and Germany, was moving. The performance was excellent. The cast, comprising six Vermont actors and one holdover from the Edinburgh and Cambridge productions, was first-rate. The audience was large, rapt and grateful. Afterward the company (consisting of 3 trans women, 3 straight women and 1 straight man), the playwright and the director sat on the stage and carried on an animated and informative talk-back with the audience.

At some point during the evening I whispered to Karen, "This wouldn't be happening tonight if it hadn't been for Judith."
"That's for sure," she replied.

In 2010 Judy's play, Funny Feeling, was produced here at the Chandler. An unvarnished exploration of the question -- what happens when society gets child pornography wrong? -- the play was enthusiastically received in Randolph. Like TranScripts, it provoked healthy post-performance conversation between the audience, cast (a mix of New York and Hollywood equity actors and local nonprofessionals), the director (Judy's neighbor and well-known for his work in television and theater), and a panel that included a public defender and the executive director of the VT ACLU.

On that autumn night eight years ago, Randolph discovered that it cared about social issue plays and Chandler has been producing them (always with talk-backs) ever since. Funny Feeling was the inspiration for Chandler's establishment of the Vermont Pride Theater (which produces four plays a year) and the annual Chandler contest for new "social issue" plays (3 are produced as staged readings every spring).

I enjoyed reminding Judith in the years after her debut in Randolph what a trend-setter she was. She would shrug it off, but I know she was proud of the trouble (and enlightenment) she had stirred up. It's a wonderful part of her lovely legacy.

Hugs to her heirs and admirers,


Minerva Keller

Dear Marthe, Dan, Katy:

Thank you very much for sharing Judy's pictures. I have very fond memories of Judy! Upon meeting her, I had a high regard for how graciously she dealt w/ all the Kellers I was gradually getting acquainted with, and I searched her company whenever I could, being for me at the time, like a breath of fresh air! She was blessed with wonderful and devoted children and sons-in-law, and I am happy to learn she left us quietly surrounded by her dear ones.

Love, Mine

March 22, 2018

Katy, Dan and Marthe

To Ted, Burt, Elaine, Larry, Laura, Leslie, Carole, Lynda, Brad and Colter --

Dear Uncles, Aunt, Cousins and Husbands --

It is now a year since Judy's passing on March 23, 2017. It is hard to believe how quickly the time has gone, and even harder to believe that she is no longer with us. We miss her every day. And especially you, her brothers, miss her terribly, too.

We all miss Shirley. Your generation and hers has been our bedrock in so many ways big and small.

Who will faithfully send us cards on our birthdays year after year? Who will cook that magnificent pot roast? (Not to mention Grandma Celia's splendid coffee cake... Grandpa Harry's Moshe Pupiks...)

Judy... indomitable, driven, a defiant individualist to the very end. She was a hip, modern mother and stood in for the loss of beloved Brenda, Colter's Mom Angela, and Brad's Mom Barbara.

Shirley... businesswoman whose customers remained fiercely loyal and was above all family-focused, giving endless, unconditional love to us all.

We hear their voices still, and always will. Our world is so diminished, these endless fonts of love and care silenced but for cherished memories. But we still have each other and we are humbled and grateful for all the hard work that has gone into managing and preserving family legacies.

Dan gives his most heartfelt thanks to Katy and Marthe who did such a superb job of navigating Mom through her final years. You were there when he could not be.

Carole, too, supported Judy long distance with regular loving letters that Judy read and re-read with great pleasure.

Brad provided unstinting support and hard work on Judy's projects. Colter was her "partner in crime", accompanying her to demonstrations and arts events.

Larry, Ted, and Burt, how well (and how much work it was) you supported Shirley as she traveled those final phases. Heroic -- and even more importantly, loving -- service and heartfelt care by all of you. Steadfast and selfless yet never losing that Herman sense of humor. You have been the most generous hub around which this wheel keeps turning. Judy loved you so completely and was so proud of your accomplishments.

Thank you, thank you.

Love always, Dan, Katy and Marthe

Niki Barolini

Dear Dan,

This is Niki Barolini, Helen Barolini's youngest daughter. My mother was a good friend of your mother's in Rome.

I was reminiscing with my mother today (she is 93) and I asked her about your mom, because she was by far my favorite of my mother's friends. That's when I found out she passed away in 2017. Your mom had the kindest, warmest energy, I really loved her.

I found your blog and really enjoyed all the great family history and photos! So much I didn't know! I also idolized your sister Katy who could do the most beautiful Pas du Chat. Please give her my love, she will always be an icon of dance to me!

Hastings on Hudson
NY 10706

The Taxi story (1959)

Here is a story Judy wrote when she lived at Danskammer Farm, near Newburgh, New York: Taxi, the Fabulous Mutt.

Hangin' with the artists -- Nick Ghiz, Judy, Marthe

Everybody adores Judy's brother Ted.

On March 9th, 2021, we shall celebrate a mitvah for Judith.
Join us online!
Click the letter to read it.

Sneaking up on Vince Kline, Judy's extraordinary elder caregiver and honorary family member.

Cara, Sally, Judy

Come Fly with Me, brother Burton's book about their remarkable family
Judy I am so happy here...