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  • "We were very saddened to hear of Ms. Azzara's passing. My..."
    - Mitra, Arash, & Essence Dashtaray
  • "Judy Azzara was a force of nature, a light to education,..."
    - Milde Waterfall
  • "Judy and Carl were so kind to all of us. Just being in..."
    - Travis Kline
  • "We extend our deepest sympathy to Mike and the families..."
    - Carol and Norm Wootton
  • "Judy was a wonderful person and an exceptional principal at..."
    - Laura Romstedt
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WOOLSEY RYAN AZZARA JUDITH WOOLSEY RYAN AZZARA Former Fairfax County Public Schools Principal Of Reston, Virginia passed away on April 11, 2017 after a courageous battle with cancer; she was 72 years old. Judy was born on March 25, 1945 in Alexandria, Virginia and was the daughter of Ralph Victor Woolsey, a former Minnesota state senator and Veterans Administration attorney, and Mildred Eleanor Woolsey, founder of the Falls Church Country Day School. Judy attended St. James Catholic School in Falls Church and graduated from Bishop O'Connell High School in Arlington with the class of 1962. She pursued her undergraduate studies in elementary education at Saint Francis College in Loretto, Pennsylvania. After her graduation in 1966, Judy married her college sweetheart, William C. Ryan Jr., who became a US Marine Corps officer and aviator. Billy flew over 300 combat missions during the Vietnam War and was shot down in May 1969, the day before their son's first birthday. Billy's remains were recovered over the Laos border in 2016 and will be interred at Arlington National Cemetery this May. In 1970, Judy began her career with Fairfax County Public Schools where she later met Carl Azzara, a fellow educator. They were married in 1982 and remained married until Carl's recent passing in March 2017. Judy graduated with a Master of Education degree from George Mason University while working at her first job as a fourth-grade teacher at Mosby Woods Elementary School. While finishing her advanced degree, Judy was instrumental in changing a Virginia law which required wives living in the Commonwealth to file as citizens of their husband's state of residency. This law unfairly caused her and many others to pay higher, out-of-state college tuitions. In 1974, Judy was named Assistant Principal at Laurel Ridge Elementary School in Springfield, Virginia becoming one of the youngest school administrators in the county. Two years later, she was offered the position of Principal at Louise Archer Elementary School in Vienna,Virginia where she helped transform the school into one of the top gifted centers in the county, brought a community together and coined the phrase, "The Sun Always Shines at Louise Archer." A brain aneurysm and stroke caused a set-back for Judy in 1978. Her courageous fight helped her beat the odds and return to her profession where she was recognized frequently as a nominee for Principal of the Year. For 24 years, Judy worked tirelessly to forge bonds between Louise Archer Elementary and its broader community to meet the needs of the students and their families Judy was named a Distinguished Alumna in Education by Saint Francis College in 1996. That same year, the Mayor of Vienna designated June 19 as "Judy Azzara Day." When Judy retired from Fairfax County Public Schools in 2000, the Vienna Branch of the American Association of University Women named her, "Educator of the Year." In addition to these honors, Judy was also an accomplished author and regular contributor to Principal magazine and other educational publications. After her retirement, Judy continued to serve Fairfax County Public Schools as a member of their Human Resources Talent Acquisition Team interviewing, recruiting and developing new teachers. She also enjoyed supervising and mentoring prospective new teachers for James Madison University. A lifelong educator, inspirational leader, and loving mother who overcame great adversity, Judy devoted her life to positively impacting others while cultivating long-lasting relationships. She embodied a magnetic, larger-than-life personality and was fiercely devoted to her students, teachers, staff and colleagues. Judy took great joy in knowing that her life's work provided profound meaning in the lives of others. She loved traveling to Florida and other sunny places with her husband Carl, spending time with family and lunch dates with retired educator friends. She enjoyed writing poetry and sharing her passion for all of life's great blessings with family, friends and neighbors. Judy is survived and will be missed by her loving son, Michael Ryan; her daughter-in-law, Shannon; her grandchildren, Tyler and Molly; her sisters, Joyce, Jackie and Janet; her brothers, Timothy and Terence; her stepchildren, Daniel, Michael, Christopher, Patrick and Ann Marie - and their children, Alexandra, Nicole, Kyle, Evan, David, Amy, Kristen and Anthony. A gathering of family and friends to commemorate Judy's life will be held on May 9, 2017 at St. John Neumann Catholic Church, 11900 Lawyers Road, Reston, Virginia. Visitation will begin at 3 p.m., followed by a Mass at 4 p.m. A reception will follow the Mass in the Church Hall. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the William Ryan '66 and Judith Ryan Azzara '66 Scholarship, Saint Francis University, 117 Evergreen Drive, Loretto, PA 15940 . http://forever.francis.edu/makeagift http://forever.francis.edu/makeagift
Religious Service Information
St John Neumann Church
11900 Lawyers Rd
Reston, VA 20191
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Published in The Washington Post on Apr. 30, 2017