Mildred Judge

Honored by:Ann Judge, Martha Fields, & Mary Merchant
Brick location:B:13  map

Mildred Elizabeth Brown Judge was born December 11, 1904 in Audubon, Iowa, the fifth child and only daughter of George and Anna Brown. The family moved to Sac City, Iowa when Mildred was 3 years old, and when Mildred was 13 years old her father and one brother died of influenza. Mildred went to work as a "hired girl" for a family in town and attended Sac City High School.

She was an excellent student who loved to read. She recalled that young people in those days did not have cars or lots of places to go, so she spent much time reading. She read nearly every book in the local library while growing up. Upon graduation, she attended Des Moines University (later Drake University) with the financial help of a local banker’s wife. This help ended a year later when the banker died, so Mildred returned home to work in a local lumber yard. She read an ad of a nursing school in Chicago that would pay room board and expenses of students who attended, so she wrote and applied.

She then went to Chicago and attended Lakeview School of Nursing, graduating in about 1929 when the Depression was at a crisis. She and a classmate read of a job as nursing supervisor in an ear nose and throat hospital in New Jersey, so they wrote and applied. Despite a lack of experience they both were hired. Mildred was in charge of a large men's ward for patients who had mastoidectomies and because antibiotics were non-existent, the work involved many dressing changes, a procedure she never forgot.

A year later she and her friend heard of a nursing supervisor in Ames, Iowa who was hiring nurses in return for room and board, so they came back to Iowa. It was in connection with this work that she met Joseph Judge, whom she later married. Joe's sister Kathryn worked for one of the doctors and knew many of the nurses. She invited Mildred to a sleigh ride on the Judge farm and talked her brother into driving the horses and sleigh. Joe and Mildred were married in 1937 and the first year of their marriage, Mildred served in the Indian Health Service in Keems Canyon, Arizona on a Navajo Indian reservation.

She had applied and been accepted before their marriage and decided to take the job because things were still difficult due to the Depression and war. She returned in 1939 to live on the family farm a mile north of Napier. Three daughters were born in the next few years: Mary, Anne and Martha. Joe died suddenly in 1948 at the early age of 50, and Mildred continued to farm a small acreage and returned to work as a nurse at Mary Greeley Hospital.

Two years later, the family moved to Ames to be closer to Mildred's work. She worked as a nurse on the night shift and eventually became the hospital's nursing supervisor for 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. shift. In addition to supervising the nursing care during these hours, she was also called to assist with emergencies in any area: delivery of babies, emergency room, admissions, assisting in the operating room, as well as other patient emergencies. She worked for twenty years, retiring in 1970.

After retirement, Mildred worked in the Appalachian region of Eastern Kentucky for several months as a home health nurse and for a short time in southern Missouri in rural health.

During her years in Ames, Mildred worked and raised her daughters, encouraging them to get an education and to go wherever they wished to go. She had loved to travel and toured Europe with a friend and fellow nurse. She also traveled to Ireland, California, Vancouver, Alaska and to the West Indies to visit her daughter Anne in the Peace Corps. As the grandchildren arrived, she traveled in the United States to see them and help with their care.

Her great interest in reading continued throughout her life and as her vision failed due to retinal degeneration, large-print books and then books on tape kept her reading. She was well-informed about the issues and events of the day through the help of public radio, and she loved to discuss politics. Gardening was another great interest and the many spaces around her home were planted with flowers. Her life was rich and full and one for which she and all who knew her were immensely grateful.

She died on December 2, 1992. She left behind three daughters: Mary Merchant, Anne Judge and Martha Fields, and 10 grandchildren: Joe, John, Mark, Sarah and Jamie Merchant; and Jeff, Karrie, Matt, David and Daniel Fields.

I think that greatness comes in many forms and the model for me is my mother. She met adversity with great determination and courage and always believed in herself. Faced with the raising of three young children alone and with little money, she persisted despite the difficulties and made many personal sacrifices in order to provide for her children. She was a very intelligent woman who used that intelligence in all aspects of her life: as an expert nurse, an informed citizen, a wise parent and an individual who enjoyed learning about new things for her own pleasure.