Judith J. Liddicoat died Jan. 8, 2019, in San Diego, Calif. Her ashes will be buried alongside her beloved twin sister, Mary Hays, in Urbana, Ill., following private services on Sept. 6, 2019. A celebration of Judy’s life took place on Feb. 23, 2019, at Torrey Pines Christian Church in La Jolla, Calif. On Nov. 7, 2019, a recipient will be named and awarded “The Judith Liddicoat Nursing Scholarship” at Southwestern Baptist University in Bolivar, Mo. On Sept. 7, 2019, family members will reunite in Bowling Green to celebrate Judy and her siblings’ memories in her hometown.
Judy was born Beulah Paxton Johnson on June 12, 1927 in Bowling Green, Mo., the fourth of five children of Olie Johnson and Anna Paxton Higginbotham who both died in 1939, leaving the girls and their siblings to be raised and cared for by others. The girls were referred to fondly by those who knew them in Bowling Green as “the Johnson Twins” (including their beloved Cousin Dora Harness Wells and her son, Cecil, and family). The twins remained close to their Johnson siblings (Martha Ann, David Newton and Jessie Lee), Higginbotham aunt and cousins (Maud, James and William) as well as their Johnson aunts (Beulah Kleppisch and Pearle Palmer) throughout their lives despite the loss of both of their parents, loss of the family home, enduring a cyclone and other hardships. While their mother was ill, the little girls spent two years living in a lighthouse at Cape Mendocino, Calif., with their Aunt Pearle (from Bowling Green) and Captain Uncle Morton Palmer, the lighthouse keeper, noted in historical records for saving ships at sea. The twin’s adventures living with him were a highlight of their childhood and ignited in both a lifelong love of the California coastline.
As a teenager, Judy survived near death from an infected appendicitis. Although it took months for her to recover, Judy still managed to later become a baton twirler and a drum majorette (along with her twin) at Bowling Green High School, as well as participate in student plays and government. Judy and Mary worked at the Bowling Green Kandy Kitchen and movie house. The twins graduated from Bowling Green High School in 1945. They were accepted in the final class of WWII Cadet Nurses.
In 1948, Judy received her Registered Nursing (RN) diploma from St. Luke’s School of Nursing in St. Louis. She took a post graduate course in surgery at Charity Hospital in New Orleans, followed by other academic courses at Northwestern University in Chicago. Judy married Dr. Douglas Liddicoat in 1953. The couple eventually settled in Watsonville, where Judy helped Doug manage his thriving medical practice. She was active in the Watsonville community and had many wonderful friends there.
After her marriage ended, Judy moved back to Illinois. She worked as a nurse at Cook County Hospital in Chicago, and then at other facilities in the midwest. Many letters from patients and supervisors attest to Judy’s skills as an astute and caring nurse. But Judy deeply missed California and the ocean, mountains, people and climate there. She returned to live and work in northern California, then in San Clemente and finally in San Diego, for the rest of her life. Judy was a passionate reader, especially of nonfiction. She was a wonderful cook, often delighting other family members with her gourmet recipes. Judy also loved to travel. Always curious and appreciative, she took trips to Egypt, Italy and Greece on her own and to Paris, Rome, Florence, Siena and Epcot (Disney) with her nieces and nephew.
After moving to San Diego, Judy became a member of Torrey Pines Christian Church in La Jolla. One of the joys of her later years was her bond with a “Small Group” of women at Torrey Pines and her Sunday School class. Judy also worked as a nanny for a family in San Diego.
In 2014, Judith Paxton and Mary Hays gave a donation to Louisville Christian Church for the repair of the church roof and came to Bowling Green for a “Homecoming” celebration. Many family members and Bowling Green residents attended. Their ancestors, the Higginbothams and Paxtons were among the early founders and members who also contributed to the purchase of a silver communion set, pitcher and two goblets for the church.
Her parents and three siblings; sister Martha Ann (Branson), brother David Newton Johnson, twin sister Mary Pearl (Hays) all died earlier. She is survived by her sister Jessie Lee Johnson of Tulsa, Okla. and New York, N.Y., as well as by five much loved nieces and nephews; Bruce Branson, Susan Branson (Leonard), Jane Hays, Nancy (Hays Heffernan) and Edward Parker Hays Jr. and their extended families.
Additional donations designated for the “Judith Liddicoat Nursing Scholarship Fund” should be mailed to Nancy Hays, 6804 West Hurlbut Street, Chicago, IL 60631.