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Judith McCulloh

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Judith McCulloh Obituary

SPRING VALLEY - Judith Marie McCulloh, 78, formerly of Spring Valley, died Sunday, July 13, 2014.

A memorial service for Judith will be at 2 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 16, 2014, at Smith Music Hall, 805 S. Mathews, Urbana, Ill.

A presence at the University of Illinois Press for 35 years, she possessed the traits of the best editors. Sociable and a good listener, she also was curious, persistent, and endowed with a ready sense of humor, grace under pressure and the ability to ask the right questions.

Her husband of 52 years, Leon McCulloh of Urbana, survives; as do her sister, Jane (Paul) Kimmel of East Brunswick, N.J.; and nephews, Louis (Christine) Kimmel of Cranford, N.J., and their children, Maya and Anya, David Kimmel of Princeton, N.J., Joseph (Lily) Kimmel of Irvington, N.Y., and Aaron Kimmel of Chicago. Also surviving are her brother-in-law, William (Patricia) McCulloh of Gambier, Ohio; niece, Ann McCulloh of Cleveland; and nephew, Michael McCulloh of Chicago.

She was preceded in death by her parents, Henry and Edna Binkele.

Judy was born Aug. 16, 1935, in Spring Valley, Ill. She received a Ph.D. in folklore in 1970 from Indiana University, with minors in anthropology and linguistics, with a dissertation titled "In the Pines: The Melodic-Textual Identity of an American Lyric Folksong Cluster." While at Indiana, she worked as an assistant in the Archives of Traditional Music and was an assistant to the editor of The Folklore and Folk Music Archivist. She also held a master's degree in English from The Ohio State University, as well as a bachelor's degree in English from Ohio Wesleyan University and a general diploma from Cottey College in Nevada, Mo. She received a Fulbright grant to study Indo-European philology at the Free University of Brussels in 1958-59. When she loaned her Sanskrit textbook and notes from that year to her brother-in-law, William McCulloh, he used it to learn Sanskrit himself and then to teach at least 40 students.

During the 1960s, she edited two LP recordings for the University of Illinois Campus Folksong Club, an active organization of nearly 500 at the time: "The Hell-Bound Train" by Glenn Ohrlin (cowboy and rodeo songs), annotated with folklorist Archie Green, and "Green Fields of Illinois" (field recordings from central and southern Illinois). Beginning at the University of Illinois Press as an assistant editor in 1972, Judy retired in 2007 as the Press's assistant director and executive editor. She was the editor of the prestigious Music in American Life series and was active in all aspects of scholarly publishing, receiving numerous awards and grants. Among them were the Association for Recorded Sound Collections Distinguished Service Award in 2011, the NEA's Bess Lomax Hawes National Heritage Fellowship in 2010, the International Country Music Conference's Lifetime Achievement Award in 2003, the International Bluegrass Music Association's Distinguished Achievement Award in 2002 and a Society for American Music Distinguished Service Citation in 2001. She became an honorary member of the Society for Ethnomusicology in 2005.

Judy was a member of the board of trustees of the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress from 1986 to 2004, serving two terms as its chair (1990-92 and 1996-98) and was named trustee emerita in 2004. Among other professional honors, she was the president of the American Folklore Society (1986-1987) and devoted almost 20 years to the Committee on the Publication of American Music for the American Musicological Society's "Music of the United States of America" series.

When not engaged in these musical and scholarly activities, Judy's favorite pastimes were gardening, sewing and quilting, activities which engaged her uncanny eye for color, texture and design and yielded endless gifts readily shared with friends and neighbors.

Memorial gifts, in lieu of flowers, are requested for the Henry and Edna Binkele Fund for Classical Music at the University of Illinois Foundation, the American Folklore Society (www.afsnet.org), the Society for American Music Judith McCulloh Fellowship or the Mills Breast Cancer Institute at Carle Foundation Hospital in Urbana.

Condolences may be offered at www.renner-wikoffchapel.com.

Published in Peoria Journal Star from Aug. 12 to Aug. 13, 2014
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