Judith Jamison Exum
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Judith Jamison Exum
  • May 9, 1939 - January 8, 2018
  • Greensboro, North Carolina

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Judith J. Exum's earthly body released her eternal soul on Monday, January 8, 2018, at Wesley Long Hospital, in Greensboro, due to complications from pneumonia, after a year-long struggle with various health issues. She was 78.
Judy was the daughter of Ralph C. "Jimmie" Jamison and Edwina Williams Jamison of Greensboro. They and her brother, March Jamison, predeceased her. She is survived by her husband, Jim Exum, Jr.; children, James Exum III, Steven Exum, and Mary March Exum; nephew, Jamie Jamison; daughters-in-law, Molly Exum and Terri Exum, and four grandchildren: Bella, Sawyer, Ava and Rosemary.
Judy was born in Salisbury, NC, grew up in Greensboro, attended Ms. Rypins' school and Greensboro public schools. She graduated from Stratford Hall, in Danville, VA, and Guilford College, in Greensboro, making her debut at the Greensboro Debutante Ball, in 1957.
A blind date with Jim Exum, a newly arrived Greensboro attorney, in 1961, eventually led to Judy and Jim's marriage in 1963 at Holy Trinity Episcopal Church, where Judy had been confirmed and all their children were eventually baptized and confirmed.
Judy was a remarkably talented homemaker, wife and mother. As The Prairie Home Companion might say, she "saw what needed to be done and she did it." With an artist's eye for beauty, creativity, and organization, she was often consulted by friends and family regarding their interior decorations. She loved her yard, her trees and flowers and her dog, Mike, a 15-year old, rescued dog who predeceased her. A lover of animals generally, she made The Humane Society a favorite charity.
Judy could fix almost anything. One of her wedding gifts, from friends who knew her well, was an electric drill, which she kept and used her entire life. Her hobbies included furniture refinishing, buying and selling antiques, and painting just about anything to, as she would say, "bring it back to life."
She worked well with people. She had an innate sense about what was important, what needed attention and who she could count on for help. She served as Dance Chairperson for Greensboro's Celestial Cotillion, whose former members still talk about the fun they had under her leadership. She was an active member of the Bonne Terre Garden Club and enjoyed hosting meetings at her home. She helped organize and run several of her husband's campaigns, first for the NC General Assembly, and later for the NC Supreme Court.
Most important in Judy's life were her children. Her love for them was constant, unconditional and tough. She was a role model, a teacher and their best advocate. They never doubted her love; they knew when she disapproved; and they knew she had their backs when they needed her and that she would be fearless in defending them when they deserved it. She was the consummate Mother.
Judy and her family lived in Greensboro, first on Woodland Drive, then on North Elm Street. In 1975, after Jim was elected an Associate Justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court, the family moved to Raleigh, where they lived for twenty years until Jim's retirement as Chief Justice, in 1994, when they returned to Greensboro to live at 902 Dover Road.
Judy organized and supervised these various moves. Throughout, she was the rock, the center, that held the family together. Each home soon embodied her touch for beauty, practicality and comfort. She made sure the children were secure and knew she was there for them. She looked forward to trips to Virginia Episcopal School, where James III graduated high school. She never missed Steven's soccer games or Mary's cheerleading events. And she developed friendships with members of the Court, their staffs and families. She arranged on several occasions for then Chief Justice Branch and his wife, Frances, to babysit Steven and Mary while she and Jim enjoyed a night out.
Not long after her move to Raleigh, Judy and a good friend, Molly Safrit, founded and operated for several years, "Finders Keepers," which Judy and Molly believed was the first consignment shop ever opened in NC.
Judy always looked forward to returning to Greensboro following her time in Raleigh. Her children were grown and Jim had returned to law practice. She enjoyed being back in the town she loved, renewing old friendships, and bringing her own sense of beauty and comfort to their home on Dover Road.
Judy loved the beach. After a couple of condos, she and Jim finally acquired a beach front cottage on Atlantic Beach. It had been in Jim's family since the 1940s. For over a decade, Judy poured her talents into making "The Cottage" a very special gathering place for family and friends.
Judy Exum enjoyed life. She knew who she was and was true to herself and to others. She was a beautiful woman, inside and out-wise, strong and brave. She will not be forgotten by those who knew and loved her.
A celebration of her life will be held at Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in Greensboro on Saturday, January 13, at 2:00, followed by a reception at the Church. The family will receive friends and family at 902 Dover Road, Greensboro, on Friday, January 12, beginning at 6:00 pm. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Humane Society, The Salvation Army, Goodwill Industries or a charity of your choice.
Online condolences may be offered at www.haneslineberryfuneralhomes.com. Hanes-Lineberry N. Elm chapel is assisting the Exum Family.