AMHERST - Judy Young, University of Massachusetts Astronomy Professor and longtime resident of Amherst, passed away in the early morning Friday, May 23, 2014.
She is mourned by her daughter Laura Little; her mother Vera Rubin; her three brothers, David, Karl and Allan Rubin; and a remarkable network of family, dear friends, and lifelong learners around the world.
Judy was born Sept. 15, 1952, to Bob and Vera Rubin, the latter a noted astronomer whose teachings on black holes inspired Judy to become an astronomer as well. Judy earned a bachelor's degree with honors from Radcliffe/Harvard University in 1974 and a doctorate in physics from the University of Minnesota in 1979.
Judy served as professor of astronomy at UMass from 1993 to 2013. Her work on star formation in galaxies earned international recognition and many awards throughout her distinguished career. She was a tireless support and friend to the many students she mentored, who remember her for her dedication, passion, humor and warmth. She dreamed up and built the UMass Sunwheel, a stone circle whose 8-10 ft. standing stones line up with the rising and setting sun during solstices and equinoxes. Judy led seasonal sunrise and sunset gatherings at the Sunwheel, making the connections between sky and earth real for over 8,000 visitors. Judy enthusiastically shared not only her knowledge and passion for science with those around her, but also her deep love of living.
She cultivated a profound connection with nature, and enjoyed backpacking, biking, hiking, and simply being outside. Her garden is a Certified Wildlife Habitat and has been featured in the Amherst Garden Tour. Above all, Judy loved her daughter Laura, with whom she shared a bond of warmth, support, silliness, song and love.
In 2006, Judy was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, the cancer that later claimed the life of her father. Even as her health challenges increased, Judy continued for many years to dedicate herself to teaching and sharing her insights. The blog she created, Living Joyfully With What Is, shares a beautiful series of thoughts on her journey and her unflinching determination to enjoy what life has to offer in spite (and because) of its brevity. Her spirit and her independent, courageous, joyful approach to living were an inspiration to the many lives she touched.
Two services will be held to celebrate Judy's life and honor her memory, one will be held outdoors Wednesday, June 4, at 7 p.m. at the UMass Sunwheel, rain or shine, and one indoors Thursday, June 5, at the Jewish Community of Amherst. Both will be open to the public. All are encouraged to wear vibrant colors, in celebration of life.
If you are so moved, please consider a donation to the Nature Conservancy.
Obituary and memorial register at www.douglassfuneral.com.
To sign a Guest Book, express condolences, share memories and read other obituaries, go to www.gazettenet.com/obituaries.
Douglass Funeral Home
87 North Pleasant Street
Amherst, MA 01002
Published in Daily Hampshire Gazette on May 28, 2014