Farming Agriculture 02


Judith "Judy" Ann (Storatz) Rutledge

October 15, 1942 ~ June 8, 2018 (age 75)
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Judith Ann (Storatz) Rutledge was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on October 15, 1942.  She passed away at her home in the sand hills southeast of Yuma on June 8, 2018, surrounded by her family.  In between, there was much dancing, giggles, tears, love and joy. 

Judy was the first born of three children.  Her sister Susan (Storatz) Farrar, and her brother Randy Storatz were part of her loving family.  Judy’s parents, Frank and Elly Storatz, moved the family to Lakewood, Colorado, when Judy was young, where they owned various businesses including the Trails End Motel in Lakewood. Judy loved horses throughout her life.  She treasured her paint horse Amigo growing up.  Judy’s sister Susan remembered her as a little bit of a daredevil.  She got a whipping from mom and dad when she played chicken by lying in the middle of West Colfax Avenue while the cars drove past.  She loved playing cowboys and Indians with her younger siblings.  One time the Indians, Susan and Judy, tied up the cowboy, Randy, to a tree and then forgot about him until their mother wondered why he didn’t show up for dinner!  Judy learned to drive by cruising up and down Colfax Avenue, and her first car was a white T-Bird.  She loved that car.   Judy was on the flag team at Lakewood High School and did well academically, graduating in 1960.

Judy opted to attend Colorado State University after graduation.  Her passion was to help others by teaching speech therapy.  This devotion to others would be repeated throughout her life.  She was met at CSU by a member of the “Welcoming Committee”- Don Rutledge.  It was a whirlwind romance as they met in February 1962, were engaged in July, and married on December 1, 1962.  He just couldn’t get over those beautiful blue eyes.  They first settled in a little trailer on the farm northeast of Yuma.  Then they built their wonderful home 14 miles southeast of Yuma.  Don and Judy have three children; Brett, born on December 2 1967, Roc, born on December 5, 1971, and Spring, born on March 29, 1975.

 It must have been a big adjustment for a big city girl to adapt to the windswept prairie.  Judy didn’t just tolerate her life on the plains, she flourished.  She milked cows, churned butter, raised veal, and made yogurt.  Judy taught herself various styles of riding; including western pleasure, side-saddle English, and of course bareback.  As an expert horsewoman, she taught many others to ride including her Mekelburg niece and nephews, Deb, Randy, Mike, Dick and Tom.  However, nephew David was unteachable.

One time Judy was painting Roc’s room and a bull snake slithered into the house.  Judy made lunches for the Mekelburg nephews when they were working alfalfa or cattle down south by the house.  Judy held the snake on the porch while the Mekelburg boys scattered quickly inside wanting nothing to do with the snake.

Her niece Deb has a favorite memory as a teenager riding horses into the water pit south of the house with Judy in their bras and cutoff jeans.  Judy’s mother-in-law Grandma Mary would have had a fit about that!

Judy was very involved in the Presbyterian Church of Yuma.  She served communion, was a Deacon and an Elder.  She served on the Presbytery and for 30 years was an active member of the Yuma Sacred Dance Choir.  Sacred Dance would become a large part of Judy’s life.  She attended many Sacred Dance festivals at Cal Berkeley and even arranged a dance festival in Yuma.  Sacred Dance enhanced Judy’s spiritual journey through the church, and she is thankful that the Yuma Presbyterian congregation was open to trying something new so many years ago.  Spring remembers many hours at the church watching Judy, Mary Willard and Myra Westfall perfecting the movements for their next dance.

 She was also an active member of Le Leche League, Young Mothers Club, Colorado Cattlewomen’s Association, Weight Watchers, Highland Horse Camp leader, and of course, in the daily operations of RMR Farm and Ranch. 

Judy was a very spiritual woman with a strong connection to Native American culture.  She had many books about Sitting Bull and other leaders of Indian tribes.  Her home is decorated with Indian artifacts and paintings.  She had a strong connection with their spiritual practices and how they lived as one with nature.  Spring remembers dressing up in her mom’s Indian outfits with her cousin Zac, braiding their horses’ tails and riding bareback around the yard.

Live long and prosper!  Judy and her best friend Ilka van Horn enjoyed their love for “Star Trek” together.  They attended multiple “Star Trek” conventions and even hosted the only Yuma “Star Trek-a-thon”.

Judy was a lifelong teacher and learner.  If she wasn’t reading books about horses or Indians, she was studying the night sky.  She loved living in the country where the heavens were lit up with the many stars, planets and constellations.  Judy hosted a number of “star parties”, including one for Halley’s Comet in 1986.

Even late in life Judy continued to learn as she took a class to get her concealed weapons permit and took up golf.  She used her new sport as an excuse to travel and played a lot of the best courses in the area, including Fossil Trace Golf Club in Golden, where she was kicked off the course for playing too long to finish nine holes.  If you’ve ever had the pleasure of golfing with Judy you would understand this, as she would typically take 10 minutes to select a club, 10 minutes of warm-up swings, then smack the ball 20 yards straight as an arrow.  Then start the process all over again.

Family was her number one priority.  Judy was very involved in all her family’s activities.  She organized and hosted a Rutledge reunion.  She was a 4-H leader, a 6th grade camp counselor, helped plan multiple family floats- winning the Sweepstakes Award at the Yuma County Fair Parade several times- and rarely missing a sporting event for her kids and grandkids.

Judy and Don took every opportunity to travel.  They went to Germany and Switzerland to visit Brett and Roc when they were living abroad.  They went to Alaska to see Spring play volleyball.  Their travels also took them to Austria, Brazil, China, London, Spain, Ireland, Mexico, the Caribbean, and the Galapagos Islands.

Her grandkids loved Judy for her beautiful blue eyes.  She was the grandma with the white hair, and loved animals.  They loved to learn about Indians from her.  Forrest remembers her apple slices dipped in caramel, while one of Miles’ favorite memories is looking through the bird book and identifying the birds around the farm.  She always had honey sticks and really good yogurt for them and she was a great cook, as many can attest.

Judy Rutledge is proceeded in death by her parents Frank and Elly Storatz, parents-in-law Stanley and Mary Rutledge, brother Randy Storatz and his wife Gayle, sister-in-law Doris and her husband Leon Mekelburg, sister-in-law Shirley and her husband Neill Mayfield.

She is survived by her husband Don; son Brett and his wife Kristy, and their children Forrest and Miles; son Roc and his wife Mellani, and their children Rayghen and Marguerette; daughter Spring and her husband Jeff Stutzman, and their children Addyson and Emily; sister Susan Farrar and her husband Ron Greenway; also, many nieces and nephews and great-nieces and nephews that she loved dearly.

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