October 28, 1921 – January 10, 2020
A native Californian and a Palisadian since 1964, Judith Wexler, who led a life well lived, passed away peacefully at 98 years of age.
She was born in Calipatria, California, where she grew up on the family farm. Judy was salutatorian at Calipatria High School and then attended UCLA where she earned her bachelor’s degree in botany with a specialization in taxonomy. A fun fact, the famed baseball player Jackie Robinson attended UCLA at the same time as Judy and they had a couple of classes together.
Years later, as a gift from her father, she took a 70-day, 10-country tour on the Queen Mary and returning on the Queen Elizabeth ocean liners; this trip sparked her lifelong love of travel.
After a brief stint working in a chemistry lab, Judy began as a schoolteacher at Louis Pasteur Junior High School where she taught life and physical sciences.
Judy married Saul Wexler later in life and had one child, Paul. Shortly after, in 1964, Judy began teaching at the newly established Palisades High School where she taught biology and human physiology. She returned to UCLA to earn a Master of Education in child growth and development.
In 1978, tragedy struck and the family lost their entire home to the Mandeville Canyon fire. Only weeks later, her husband Saul lost his life to cancer.
After 38 years of teaching and recent life events, she decided to retire and focus on her passion for world travel. Judy traveled first in the United States, then all over the world. Some of the places she visited included Kenya, Egypt, Israel, China, Panama, Brazil, Russia and throughout Europe.
Judy felt her biggest accomplishment was teaching science to (collectively thousands of) her students. Teaching was very important to her, as she enjoyed her students and challenging them to work hard. As an educator she was never bored, and the students kept her engaged.
An active community member, Judy participated in many civic activities. She was active in the City of Hope and the Getty Villa as a docent. Judy was involved with the local National Council of Jewish Women for 20 years and served as their co-president. In later years, she volunteered with Koreh LA and attended a traveling art history class.
She attended weekly services at Kehillat Israel, and had served on their board and Religious Practices Committee. For decades, Judy had season tickets to the LA Opera and the LA Philharmonic, and there wasn’t a museum that she hadn’t visited in California or any major U.S. city.
Deeply curious, Judy was a lifelong learner, which kept her mind active; she read the LA Times daily from cover to cover. She believed strongly in education, justice and equal rights for all as well as protecting the earth. She supported dozens of nonprofit organizations and was generous with her time and resources to her family and friends.
Judy is survived by her son, Paul Wexler, daughter-in-law, Millie Wexler, and her beloved grandchildren, Ariel and Seth Wexler. Judy is also survived by her brother, Leon Elster.
Judy was very close to all her nieces and nephews and always took an interest in their lives. She was proud of her stepchildren, Janis Bolusky z”l and Ron Wexler, and their children: Richard Bolusky, Jennifer Joels (Tulsa, Oklahoma), Matthew and Emily Wexler (Providence, Rhode Island).
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in her memory to the National Council of Jewish Women, Kehillat Israel, City of Hope, the Nature Conservancy or Temescal Canyon Association.
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