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Hospice Tree to shine for Judee Curley


Judee Curley was a bright light in the Valley of the Moon, enhancing the lives of her family and friends with her constant kindness, endless capacity for love, and never-failing smile.

Judee loved Christmas, decorating the family tree with a lifetime collection of sentimental ornaments – so it is fitting that the Hospice Tree on the Plaza will shine in her honor this year.

Judee was diagnosed with cancer in 2012, and was unwavering in her quest to be strong for her family – maintaining her upbeat demeanor until she passed away just days after Christmas last year. Although she was never cancer-free throughout her ordeal, she had some good months, with plenty of chances to use one of her favorite phrases – “Right on.”

Judee was married to Tim Curley, longtime El Verano Elementary School teacher, for 34 years. They raised their four children – daughter Molly and triplet sons Aaron, Ben and Jack – in a Sonoma home filled with music, sports, fun and a no-fooling-around attitude when it came to important things like school and treating people kindly.

Judee was a registered nurse at Marin General Hospital for more than 30 years, working in pediatrics and with newborns, but managed her schedule, working nights and part time, so that she was always home during the day for her children – and for all the kids for blocks around.

“There was never a day after school when it was just the four of us,” Molly remembered. “Everyone was welcome here.”

She loved parties, throwing “epic” birthday bashes for her kids, hosting Christmas Eve, and constantly inviting people over to chat, laugh and have a bite to eat. She was known for her crab cioppino and chicken Caesar salad sandwiches, a casual cook who viewed food as a way of bringing people together, whether around the nightly dinner table or at a backyard barbecue.

Music was always on in Judee’s life, and she was the biggest fan of Tim’s band, the Cork Pullers. It was a huge thrill when they played the national anthem at a San Francisco Giants game a few years ago; just as they finished singing a huge whoop of excitement rang through the ballpark from the upper deck, “I heard it and I knew it was her,” Tim said.

Judee would dance to any song, anywhere, whether it was at a party, in her cheerful kitchen or in a checkout line at Rite-Aid. “Music was one of her greatest comforts and she just loved to dance,” Molly said. She was also a natural athlete, and master swimmer at Parkpoint Club. “The pool was her place of solace.”

A while before Judee was born, one of six children, her father suffered a debilitating stroke, then experienced an unlikely return to good health. In honor of his recovery Judee was named for St. Jude, the patron saint of hope and impossible causes. Judee often wore a St. Jude’s medal, and always approached life as if anything were possible.

“She was our gravity,” Molly said. “She kept us connected.”

“We’ve been a little out of orbit since,” Tim added.

“She loved people so deeply,” Molly said. “And she was always there for everyone. She had so many friends. If you were part of her life she was invested in you. And there was never any sort of judgment.”

Asked how they thought Judee would feel about having the tree shine in her honor, Molly and Tim said in unison, “Embarrassed!” Then, thinking about it for a minute, Tim added, “She’s a very good person to have the tree dedicated to. She is very deserving.”

Judee’s was a voice that rose above the crowd filled with love and wisdom. There are many who will be touched by that voice forever.

The Hospice by the Bay Lights of Remembrance tree-lighting ceremony takes place Sunday, Dec. 6 at 6 p.m. The tree will twinkle with white lights throughout the holiday season, in memory of all those who have passed away in the community. To sponsor a tribute light in honor of a loved one call 415-526-5500, or download the form at hospicebythebay.org.