JUDITH AZZARA
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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

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Published in The Washington Post on Apr. 30, 2017.
Memories & Condolences
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15 entries
June 3, 2020
The sun always shines at Louise Archer! Mrs. Azzara was such a light, so enthusiastic about every students success. Sometimes at assemblies she would call out random made-up names to get us to think she knew everyone's name and quiet us down. I loved the 60th anniversary of the school, singing "We Shall Overcome" and learning about our heroine, Louise Archer chopping wood to keep students warm in her all black school. Mrs. Azzara will be missed.
Shannon Merrell
Student
May 11, 2017
We were very saddened to hear of Ms. Azzara's passing. My brother, daughter, and I all went to Louise Archer and were lucky to have Ms. Azzara as our principal. She always had a smile on her face and genuinely loved her kids. Throughout the years, I have always thought back to the best years of my childhood and Ms. Azzara was someone who made an ever lasting impression on my life. She will never be forgotten and will greatly be missed.

Our thoughts and prayers are with her family, as I know that this is a very tough time for them. May God give you strength during this very trying time.
Mitra, Arash, & Essence Dashtaray
May 11, 2017
Judy Azzara was a force of nature, a light to education, and most importantly, an advocate for children. Coming to Louise Archer and Judy with a second grader and a fourth grader restored our family's belief in what educating children was all about. Judy is a hero to more than teachers and students and parents, she is a hero to humanity at a time when we need heroes more than ever. Thank you Judy.
Milde Waterfall
May 9, 2017
Judy and Carl were so kind to all of us. Just being in their presence made me smile and my day better. You touched my life and God Bless the both of you! Missed but never forgotten.
Travis Kline
May 9, 2017
We extend our deepest sympathy to Mike and the families associated with this remarkable lady. Working with her as a parent volunteer at Louise Archer, she truly was a shining light and will be sorely missed.
Carol and Norm Wootton
May 8, 2017
Judy was a wonderful person and an exceptional principal at Louise Archer. We will miss her smiling face and upbeat disposition. Condolences to all.
Laura Romstedt
May 8, 2017
I am so sorry to hear of Judy's passing. I remember Judy's enthusiasm and passion for teaching and learning. But most of all, I remember how much she loved life and shared her warm, welcoming smile with everyone she met. I will miss her. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.
Betsy Goodman
May 4, 2017
Judy Azzara was a well-respected and cherished individual. She was my favorite principal in FCPS and my career in the schools allowed me to get to know many. Her staff adored her and grew under her leadership. My sincere sympathy to Mike, her devoted siblings and the entire Woolsey, Azzara and Ryan families. My love to you all.
Lin Oakerson
May 2, 2017
Mike, we are so sorry for your loss. I've always enjoyed my experiences with your mom & Carl so much. Thinking of you & your family - and wishing you deep peace in the days ahead as you remember and memorialize your loved ones.
Kristen Saacke Blunk
May 2, 2017
Judy was greatly admired, respected even emulated
By the community and her professional peers.
Her ebullient smile and high spirit will be greatly missed
By her family, friends, students and teachers.
Prayers for all who will miss this dynamic woman.
Love always, Linda
Linda Clark
May 1, 2017
Judy walked with grace in all her steps and I will always remember her kindness. I pray that you find peace in knowing how much she was loved.

Safia (FCPS)
Safia Carpenter
May 1, 2017
Both Judy and Carl were beautiful people - always smiling and helping people. When I moved to Thrush Ridge Road they were helpful and friendly. Judy you will be sorely missed. Terry Campo
Terry Campo
April 30, 2017
Please accept my sympathies,
May the peace that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts during this time.
Andrea
April 30, 2017
Family has my deepest condolences. May God give you strength and peace at this difficult time.
April 30, 2017
Sorry for your loss may you draw comfort from Gods word at HOSEA 13:14 L Ohio
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