Judith Correllus Strimel, the matriarch of an extended family that meant everything to her, died Sunday, July 8 at Bryn Mawr Hospital in Bryn Mawr, Pa., surrounded by her husband and four children.
A Bayada home health care marketing administrator, she was 63 and a resident of Wayne, Pa.
“She was the mother of many, and the pride of all. Judy Strimel made a difference wherever she went,” said George Strimel, her husband of 31 years.
George and Judy first met in Edgartown, where they spent the first 10 years of their married life.
When they met, each had two children from earlier marriages. But there was never talk of stepchildren, or half-brothers or half-sisters. “We were and remain a dedicated family unit,” George Strimel said. “This tradition continues with the mutual embrace of our eight grandchildren.”
Born on the Island, Judy Strimel was the daughter of the late Manuel F. Correllus, a state forester for both Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket, and Hilda Merritt Correllus, a registered nurse from Maine.
“Judy loved the Vineyard and had fond memories of riding in her father’s forest-fire-fighting truck, and pedalling her bicycle through the woods,” recalled George Strimel. That woodland preserve today is the 5,000-acre Manuel Correllus State Forest, named in honor of her father.
Judy Strimel loved to work in the garden of the Strimel home on Louella Court in Wayne that captured her signature style with its sculptured hedges, creative plant arrangements and brightly colored clusters of flowers.
She was an active member of the Community Garden Club of Wayne, an organization of liked-minded neighborhood gardeners. She was also active with the Main Line Chamber of Commerce and the Wayne Business Association.
Judy was a voracious reader and favored mysteries, fiction and books devoted to cooking and gardening. She passed her love of reading onto her children and grandchildren.
Daughter Gwyneth Wallace of Edgartown said some of her greatest memories are of Judy of the dinner table. “No matter how busy we all were, she always had dinner waiting for us, and she insisted on setting the table. That meant cloth napkins, salad and dinner forks, and place mats. We embraced our time together. I’ll always remember lively conversation and a great amount of laughter.”
Daughter Alison Pratt of Aldan, Pa., recalled best the Brownie camping trips with her mother as a chaperone, and the time Judy accompanied her on a seventh grade skiing trip.
“She wasn’t a skier, but she did so because she was so involved with her kids, she wanted us to enjoy our childhood,” she said.
Judy enjoyed traveling nationally to cities like San Francisco and New York as well as visits to metropolitan areas in Canada, Montreal and Quebec City among her favorites.
“Since we were both Anglophiles, London was a great favorite,” said her husband George Strimel, executive director of Radnor Studio 21, a community public access TV station for Delaware County, Pa.
“We enjoyed the London social clubs, restaurants, West End theatre productions, and making out-of-town train excursions with British friends that we met on earlier visits to the United Kingdom.”
Her son Jeremy Pratt of Camden, Me., recalled fondly baseball trips he and his mother made to Boston to watch the Red Sox play in Fenway Park. “She had no interest is sports, let alone baseball, but she wanted me to have a good time,” he said.
He’s also thankful for his mother’s liberal political positions that influenced him. “Thank God she made me a Democrat. Now I can negate family Republican votes,” he said good-naturedly.
Her daughter, Victoria Ketterer of Hazelton, Pa., credited her mother’s unconditional love with helping resolve an adolescent dilemma when her grades were suffering.
“She stressed that by applying myself, I could conquer life’s obstacles. It was advice that grounded me as a person,” she said.
But perhaps Judy’s greatest love was her eight grandchildren. “She never took a break,” said her daughter Alison. “She went right from attending the concerts of her four kids to starting all over again with her grandchildren. She never missed a big event. Ever.”
In addition to her four children and husband, Judy Strimel is survived by eight grandchildren: Phoebe Kelleher, Elizabeth Kelleher, Daniel Ketterer, Dylan Wallace, Michael Wallace, Natalie Wallace, Nili Swisa and Alexandra Swisa. A brother, William Correllus of Oak Bluffs, and many nieces and nephews also survive her.
Contributions in her name can be made to Radnor Memorial Library, 114 West Wayne Avenue, Wayne, PA. 19087.
A celebration of life memorial gathering was held this past Saturday in the garden of her home in Wayne, Pa. There also will be a celebration on Saturday, Sept. 15, at the Oak Bluffs Lagoon Pond home of her daughter and son in law, Gwyneth and Michael Wallace, from 2 to 4 p.m.