Judith Galley Willis
Judith Galley Willis
  • January 12, 1939 - December 11, 2017
  • Kansas City, Missouri

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Judith “Judy” Galley Willis, 78, died suddenly in her home in Kansas City, MO on Dec. 11, 2017. Judy was born Jan. 12, 1939 in Lincoln, NE to parents Roy E. and Ula Galley who precede her in death. The Galley family moved to Kansas City around 1949 where Judy later graduated from Southwest High School in 1957. She attended Nebraska University (Lincoln, NE) and Texas Women’s University (Denton, TX) where she studied physical education. During this time she also worked as a counselor with Camp Fire Girls of America. In 1964, she married Charles “Charlie” D. Willis. The couple had their only daughter, Brenda Lynn, in 1967, and Judy was a loving stepmother to Charlie’s two sons, Daniel “Dan” Earl and Jerald “Jerry” Allen Willis. While Brenda was her only daughter, Judy had many “children”. She was a warm, loving and caring mother to not only her own daughter but to all children who knew her. In fact, during Brenda’s senior year of high school, Judy opened her home to another teenaged girl, Victoria “Tori” Jane Louise Hodgman, by participating as a host family through the AFS foreign student exchange program. Tori quickly became family and still refers to Judy as “Mom”.

Judy’s husband, Charlie, died in 1975, and upon becoming a widowed single parent, Judy began her career as a skilled and effective administrative assistant. She studied office management at Maple Woods Community College where she excelled. The bulk of her career was dedicated to working for the Presbyterian Church (USA) by way of Northminster Presbyterian Church in Kansas City’s Northland and later, as well as longer, Heartland Presybtery’s office in Kansas City. It was at this time that she became an active member of Central Presbyterian Church where she served as Clerk of the Session, on various committees, sang in the choir, worked in the food pantry, and many other commitments in service to the congregation, Central Church and the larger Presbyterian Church. After the death in 1994 of her eldest stepson, Dan, Judy became passionately involved with the More Light movement in the Presbyterian Church (USA) working toward the full inclusion and participation of LGBTQ in the life, ministry and witness of the church, and she was able to experience significant accomplishments and historical progressive changes affecting the church by More Light Presbyterians.

Judy was fun and joyful, always smiling and welcoming to others, full of life, love and laughter. She was always passionate and unwavering in her convictions, including her steadfast Christian faith and belief in social justice (especially for women, LGBTQ, and the needy, among others). She was curious, creative and compassionate. Her curiosity drove her to be someone who was always seeking knowledge and wisdom. To this end, she traveled to Scotland on pilgrimage with Sisters and friends of Mount St. Scholastica in Atchison, KS, became a Benedictine Oblate, and completed the Souljourners program to study, train and practice spiritual direction. Her powerful creativity designed her as someone who was always willing to try new things, all of which she did flawlessly (like painting, woodworking, quilting, cross-stitching, crafting, jewelry-making, wallpapering, decorating, and the list goes on and on…). There was not much she couldn't do or wouldn't at least try. Finally, her compassionate heart gave her the ability to be extraordinarily open and accepting of anyone, despite differences or judgments from others. There was boundless space in her heart for anyone and everyone. Judy was also strong and independent to the end and sometimes to a fault. However, she was an example to all who encountered her, a true witness; always embodying strength in many different ways, never lonely despite living alone for so many years, always satisfied and hopelessly optimistic. She never needed much to by happy, but when there was a need (hers or otherwise) she tended to it with unfailing determination. Her patience was enviable. She was able to look at anyone whom she encountered and see beyond their flaws, blemishes, faults, etc. and into the soul of their purest being as a blessed child of God.

Judy is survived by daughter, Brenda (Kansas City, MO) and her partner, James D. Inman; brother, Thomas “Tom” K. Galley (Overland Park, KS) and his wife, Sharon and family, (Kent, Kurt, Kevin, Nicole, Garrison, Griffin, Annalee, Jonah, and Autumn Galley and McKenzie and Kellan Scott); stepson, Jerry (Independence, MO) and his wife, Sandy; (AFS) daughter, Tori (Hobart, Tasmania, Australia); (honorary) grandson, Isaac A. Epley (Liberty, MO) and his parents, Arnold and Beth Gentry Epley; and her two beloved dogs, Maggie and Chloe and cat, Stella.

Memorial Services are scheduled for 10:00 AM on Sat., Dec. 23, 2017 at Central Presbyterian Church (3501 Campbell, KC, MO) All are welcome. The family is accepting flowers at the church or donations can be made in Judy’s honor to one (or more) of the following:

  • Central Presbyterian Church general fund, Proudfoot (More Light) fund or the More Light Presbyterians’ national organization

  • Mount St. Scholastica

  • Humane Society of Greater Kansas City

  • Planned Parenthood of Greater Kansas City