Oct. 17, 1939-Sept. 22, 2020
Palo Alto, California
"I always wound up thinking about concepts in ways that I hadn't considered before,” typifies the common reaction of her students. Whether in a formal class or simple conversation, interactions with Judith Moss were always memorable and stimulating. Incisive, empathic, witty, and resolute, Judith was precise with every word choice, detailed in her researched preparation, and focused in her work, her conversations, her students and her friends. With a commitment to excellence in every action, Judith impacted more people than she ever realized and the loss of her wisdom and gracious friendship are already acutely felt.
Judith Moss, a resident of Palo Alto since 1967, passed away on September 22, 2020 of chronic heart disease. She was born to Rex Ferrebee and Ione Naegle Moss in Salt Lake City, Utah on October 17, 1939. Her life-long independence and precocious intellect were evidenced when at barely 3 years old she taught herself to read by perusing what she believed were short stories in the newspaper—the obituaries. Perhaps this activity sparked her later interest in sharing her carefully researched and written family histories with 10 nieces and nephews who cherished every communication with their Aunt Judith. No note, greeting, or gift to anyone was ever generic but always selected with great care and specificity.
Outstanding achievements in high school included a year in post-war West Germany as an exchange student; this experience ignited her desire for further travel and exploration. Staying in contact with her German host family for years, she often expressed great gratitude for them in this seminal time. In college at Brigham Young University, she held multiple leadership positions in student government, honor societies and service organizations while earning her BA in English from BYU in 1962. Usually elected the president of each organization she joined, fellow students quickly recognized her abilities culminating in her election as President of the BYU Association of Women Students her senior year. As part of her Masters studies, she helped develop innovative teaching strategies in the BYU H.S. laboratory school. Her BYU experiences proved to be tremendous training for her Stanford University work-life beginning in 1967. The highlight of her Stanford career was her work in the Training and Organizational Development department in HR where she helped promote and teach organizational principles throughout many university disciplines and departments. Judith was passionate about Stanford and the “Stanford Way,” earning a Staff Emeritus title upon her retirement in January 2010. She served her community as a member of the Mediation Board for Palo Alto Human Relations, was a lead teacher in her women’s historical studies group (Daughters of the Utah Pioneers), taught courses in Stanford Continuing Education program on memoir and personal history writing, and tutored young elementary students who benefited from and lovingly reciprocated her engaged attention.
Judith was an active, vibrant member of the Palo Alto First Ward of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and a devoted friend and mentor to many youth and adults. The notes and tributes of love showered upon her 80th birthday celebration last year illustrate the impact she had on so many. Judith’s teaching and devoted service to her faith and her LDS congregation are renown. “I wish I could teach like Judith Moss does!” was a commonly repeated phrase. Ever the consistent scholar, she stated recently how much she relished delving into the Scriptures each day to continue discovering new insights even after her decades of study. This life-long, deep intellectual and spiritual enthusiasm for learning, sharing and teaching are the essence of Judith.
Preceded in death by her loving parents and her two cherished brothers, James Rex Moss and Stephen Roger Moss, she is survived by her caring sisters-in-law, LaVelle R. Moss of Orem, Utah and Mary H. Moss of Salt Lake City, Utah; ten nieces and nephews; many cousins; and multiple admiring friends whose lives have been enriched as “students” of Judith Moss.