Judith A. Hearn
is honored with a Brick
from Steven and Theresa Hearn.
Judith A. Hearn was a wonderful mother, an outstanding mother-in-law, and, in the words of our oldest son, "the best grandma in the universe." When she died on December 20, 1996, our community lost a dynamic civic and business leader, and the Hearn family lost a beloved member.
Judy Hearn had a powerful impact on the lives of countless individuals during her 55 years on this earth. Her death was a staggering loss for the Hearn family as well as for the rehabilitation community--locally, statewide and at the national level. Judy lived courageously. She knew at a very young age that she would spend her life helping others. Born missing digits on her hands and feet, she was personally aware of the challenges that face a person with disabilities, but she never allowed her disability to dampen her spirit or enthusiasm. Judy lived her philosophy--disabilities shouldn't matter--and they certainly didn't affect her accomplishments.
Judy Hearn was born in Weir, Kansas, grew up in Pratt and met her future husband, Ross, there in high school. She graduated from Campus High School in Haysville. She earned a Bachelor's degree in social work from Wichita State University, and a Master's degree in rehabilitation administration from the University of San Francisco. Judy's illustrious career began at Wesley Medical Center counseling couples of high risk pregnancies, many of whom lost infants during childbirth. She left Wesley to join Kansas Elks Training Center (KETCH) where she developed the Projects With Industry Program which has received numerous awards. Later in her career, she accepted a position at Drake University. While at Drake, she developed and implemented a master's program that brought national acclaim to Drake. But her roots were in Kansas, and after two years in Des Moines, Judy returned to the Wichita area to take the position of Executive Director of Rainbows United, an agency that provides services for children with disabilities.
Judy always made certain that she was close to the people her programs served. At Rainbows United, Judy had to have her office right in the middle of all the classrooms, in the middle of the kids.
Judy became President and CEO of KETCH in 1988. Under her leadership, KETCH has become well-established as a leader in the rehabilitation industry. Programs implemented under Judy's leadership have become models nationwide, particularly the Projects With Industry program which received the Outstanding Projects With Industry Award in 1995, presented by the International Association of Business. Judy Hearn shared her expertise in the rehabilitation field, serving as a consultant to business, industry, state agencies, government and educational institutions. She received the Outstanding Professional Handicapped Woman of the Year award from the Pilot Club in 1988; Rehabilitation Professional of the Year award in 1990 from the Association of Retarded Citizens; recognized by College Hill United Methodist Church for leadership in the provision of social services in 1993; the Cordelia Shelving Ellis Memorial Award from the Great Plains Region of the National Rehabilitation Association in 1994; and the Good Samaritan Award from the Counseling and Mediation Center in 1994. KETCH became the first social service organization ever to win the prestigious Wichita Chamber of Commerce Over the Years award in 1989, thanks to Judy's outstanding leadership.
Judy strongly believed that people with disabilities are people with extraordinary capabilities. She believed that people with disabilities can and should work alongside persons without disabilities and her career was devoted to helping people with disabilities overcome the obstacles associated with having a disability. Thousands of Americans with disabilities are working and living independently in the community today because of Judy's vision of what could be for people with disabilities.
Yet, while most people knew Judy on the professional level, the most important thing in her life was her family. Judy loved her family members unconditionally. She felt an overwhelming responsibility to model for her children and grandchildren those things that she believed really mattered in life--a genuine respect for others, kindness, humbleness, sincerity, honesty and a fierce determination to right wrongdoing.
Judy's favorite quote was one by John F. Kennedy: "Great achievements and high ideals are not merely a matter of chance or fate; they are the product of long and disciplined toil." It is our intention that by dedicating this brick in the Plaza of Heroines to Judy Hearn that we are in a very small way rewarding her for her years of long and disciplined toil. We love her, we miss her and we vow to keep her memory alive so that our children, Steven, Douglas and Christopher, will understand the beauty of their grandmother's life, so that they'll know the greatness of her achievements, and so that they'll always feel the warmth and depth of her love.
Submitted by Steven R. and Theresa A. Hearn
July 17, 1998