A PRO’S PRO--Judith Eshenfelder Witty began her journalism career on the student newspaper at Southern Methodist University in Dallas and soon was reporting for the Corpus Christi Caller-Times and the Dallas Times Herald, where she was the only female city side reporter at the time.
It was there that she met Bob Witty, and they married during a sleet storm on January 28, 1961. Two weeks later they headed west in two cars, Judy in a sporty Austin Healy Sprite and Bob in a brand new Chrysler Valiant.
|Judith Witty on Assignment|
Bob had a job waiting for him at the San Diego Evening Tribune, where he later became deputy editor, but Judy was barred from working at either the Union or Tribune because of nepotism rules. Instead, she moved into public relations at Cal Western University, followed by assignments at Phillips-Ramsey and Nuffer-Smith. She also wrote for San Diego Magazine, San Diego Home & Garden, Senior World, TravelAge West and Guest Informant.
For many years Judy wrote a weekly column reviewing children's books for Copley News Service. One of the most satisfying of her freelancing assignments was writing travel articles, mostly around her treks through Europe, Canada, Mexico and California's wine country. In 2003, she and Bob took an around the world cruise on the QE2, sending stories and photos back to the states.
“When I worked with Judy as a magazine editor in town, I remember she delivered excellent copy on time and always accepted assignments with a genial enthusiasm,” said Tom Shess, who served editorial stints at both San Diego Magazine and San Diego Home/Garden Lifestyles, “She was one of this city’s top freelance writers.”
In 1984, they kept a promise to their teenage children, Lisa and Stephen, and spent five weeks driving around Europe. Bob's brother, Tom, met them in London on arrival and put them up in the Ritz Hotel setting up expectations which were not to be realized for the rest of the trip.
Judy loved playing tennis, and was among the first to enroll in the Run for Your Life program when it began in San Diego in the 1960s. She was chair of Mission Hills Advisory Council for the city schools, deciding the future of the Grant Elementary School, which was condemned by the Field Act. She also was a mentor in the central library's literacy program.
She loved remodeling her family's homes in Mission Hills and Scripps Ranch, and being both daring and thrifty, she acted as contractor to oversee the projects.
Judy was born in New York City on June 30, 1936 to Henry and Helen Eshenfelder and attended schools mostly in Connecticut until age 12 when her parents moved to Dallas. Her father was an executive at Chance Vought Aircraft and was in the advance wave of the company's historic move from Stratford to Dallas.
Judy died on May 16 of complications from pneumonia. She had been active until a few weeks before, with daily workouts on a treadmill, cooking gourmet meals for Bob, playing bridge and attending weekly luncheons and teas at the Wednesday Club.
She is survived by her husband, Bob; son Stephen of New Orleans, a sister, Jan Burton of Dallas, brother-in-law Tom Witty of Oklahoma and several nieces and nephews. A daughter, Lisa, died of cancer in 2000.
Her favorite charities included Doctors Without Borders and Smile Train.
A memorial service will be held at 3 p.m. Thursday, June 5, in the Mission Hills United Church of Christ.
Note: This remembrance was provided by Bob Witty, son Stephen Witty with editing provided by the Witty's family friend, Judith Morgan.