Judith Ann Stemp Powers
Ballston Spa Judith Ann Stemp Powers, age 77, passed away on Thursday, July 23. Judy was born in Cohoes on September 29, 1942 to Molly Pelesz Stemp and Charles Frederick Stemp.
She was predeceased by her parents and her beloved husband of over 50 years, Thomas J. Powers. Judy is survived by her treasured children, Jennifer S. Powers Rutkey and Thomas J. Powers, Jr.; her cherished grandchildren, Ellie and Izzy Rutkey, and Jonah and Jade Powers Kulpa, who were her pride and joy; her dearest siblings Joyce (Mark) Pascale, Sandra Wilcox, Susan (Thomas) Libbos, Frederick (Anne) Stemp, Donald (Mary Jo) Stemp, Janet (John) Lengsfelder, and Eric (Tisia) Stemp; many nieces, nephews, great nieces and great nephews; and her lifelong friend, Donna Gotsch.
She was a 1960 graduate of Cohoes High School. Upon graduation, Judy began working at RPI as a secretary, where she met Tom. In 1968, she married Tom and they moved to Claverack, New York where they lived and raised their two children until 2002, when they relocated to Ballston Spa, New York to be closer to their grandchildren. During her time in Claverack, Judy opened her own craft store, Judy’s Craft Shop, in an old barn behind their home. This was a perfect career for Judy, as it allowed her to remain close to home to care for her children. Judy’s Craft Shop was a family business where Tom and their children regularly helped in the shop and attended craft shows as Judy’s helpers. Judy had many fond memories of traveling with the Gotsch family to craft shows each summer.
In 1997, Judy began her third, and favorite, career as a grandma, providing childcare for Ellie and Izzy. She always said that caring for her grandchildren was the best thing she ever did and the thing of which she was most proud. Judy was a caretaker her entire life, starting with her seven beloved and cherished younger siblings, then her husband and children, her grandchildren, and even her next-door neighbors, the Poirier Family. Judy became very close with the Poiriers, who were like family to her. Ronda, Jason, Matthew, Michael, and Joseph provided Judy with everything from help around the house to love and friendship.
Family was the most important thing to Judy, and being with her family made her the happiest. In the 1970s and 1980s, Judy, Tom, Jennie, and Tommy spent every summer at Burden Lake with their large extended families, the Powers and the Stemps (fondly known as the Stempede). Family traditions were very important to Judy. She began the tradition of making homemade photo calendars showcasing memories from the year as Christmas gifts for each of her children and grandchildren. Judy hosted Thanksgiving every year, and, after Jennie’s birth in December of 1970, she started a family Christmas and birthday celebration hosted annually the Saturday before Christmas that has continued for 50 years. The party began as a celebration of Jennie, Tom, and Tommy’s birthdays, but expanded in 1997 when Ellie was also born in December. Family members travel from near and far to gather for the celebration; parties often saw upwards of 60 guests, and for Judy, the more the merrier. Judy and her sisters, Joyce, Sandy, and Anne, together with family friend Anne Marie, spent countless hours each year creating homemade Christmas ornaments for the family. Making the ornaments was the purpose of their months-long weekly get-togethers, but what was perhaps more important was getting together to share stories of their children and grandchildren. Judy’s memory will live on every year on Christmas trees across the country.
Judy loved to travel, and would go anywhere her family wanted to go. Her favorite destinations included summer trips to the ocean, trips out west to see the West Coast Stemps (especially to Arizona and to gamble in Las Vegas), and, most recently, to the Dominican Republic with her children and grandchildren. Her home away from home was in Utah to visit Tommy, Jonah, and Jade, where she loved to hike, watch Jonah play baseball, and do crafts with Jade, and where she learned to thoroughly enjoy and appreciate cabin life. Judy loved to read, sit on her porch, play games (especially Words with Friends, Canasta, Scat, SkipBo, and Black Jack), and go for walks. In recent months, Judy spent Friday mornings with the Stemp sisters (and occasionally the Stemp brothers) engaging in a weekly sibling-led yoga class via Zoom.
Special loving thanks to the staff at Saratoga Hospital, especially Dr. Randall Kimball and the compassionate doctors and nurses in the ICU, who cared for Judy in her final weeks and held her hand when her family couldn’t. In lieu of flowers, online donations to the Saratoga Hospital ICU in Judy’s honor and memory would be greatly appreciated. Donations can be made at the Saratoga Hospital Foundation website (https://www.saratogahospitalfoundation.org/donate-now) by selecting the “other” designation and typing in “ICU.”
Per Judy’s wishes, and due to COVID restrictions, there will be no public wake or funeral. Her family will hold a private celebration of her life to share stories and memories of Judy. Online remembrances may be made at www.armerfuneralhome.com