From the WAVES to the waves, Eleanor Judge savored her long life
Appreciation, by Maria Judge
Eleanor Judge owed her brother a debt of gratitude for introducing her to the town she came to love so well.
In August of 1965, she, her husband, and eight children, newly returned from South America and crowded into the grandmothers’ two small Boston apartments, were considering their next move. One day she asked her brother if he could recommend a place on Cape Cod where they could spend a few weeks and the children could go to the beach. “You don’t have to go all the way to the Cape,” Billy told her. “The most beautiful beach in the area is a lot closer.”
He drove them to Hull, where they rented a summer house for two weeks, then rented a house on Q Street for the school year, then bought the house across the street, and Eleanor made Hull her home for the next 52 years.
Six months ago, she moved to the Lafayette Rehabilitation and Skilled Nursing Facility in Marblehead, where she died peacefully in her sleep on April 30. She was 94-1/2.
Eleanor Frances Hanna was born in St. Mark’s Parish in Dorchester on September 4, 1922. She was surrounded by music from an early age. Her father, James Hanna, played the cymbals in the American Legion Newspapermen’s Post band, and sang every morning while he shaved. She and her mother, Ella Nichols Hanna, sang hymns together as they worked in the kitchen. Her two brothers played the drums and she and her sister both sang in their church choirs.
After graduating from Dorchester High School for Girls, Eleanor attended Kent’s Hill Junior College, worked in Boston for several years, and then joined the WAVES (U.S. Naval Reserves) in 1944. She was a member of the prestigious “singing platoon” during boot school at Hunter College in New York, and then attended yeoman school, where she increased her typing speed from 45 to 75 wpm. The military’s secret? They taught their students to type to music.
“What did they play for you?” her sister wondered. “Benny Goodman?”
In fact, it was Strauss waltzes that did the trick.
After returning to Boston, Eleanor was assigned to the Office of the Commander of the Eastern Sea Frontier, where one of her duties involved typing up lists of buoys found in Boston Harbor. Seventy years later, she could still remember one item on her list: flashing red buoy, rendered permanently white by seagulls.
She began studying at Boston College’s campus in the Back Bay and continued after she was honorably discharged from the WAVES in 1947. She married Jerome Judge, the naval lieutenant she met when he came into her office to get the routing for his ship, in September 1950.
One week later, they packed three trunks and moved to Ireland to study in Dublin on the GI Bill. They traveled extensively throughout Ireland, made many friends, and were active in the university community. Eleanor joined a dramatic society organized by a fellow American student, the actor Carroll O'Connor, and played his daughter in a production of Thornton Wilder's “The Happy Journey to Trenton and Camden.”
The first of her 10 children was born in Dublin, but died from cardiac complications. He is buried in the Angel’s Plot at Glasnevin Cemetery, in a grave his father helped to dig. A second son was born the following year, and she was expecting her third child when they moved to Germany for Jerome’s job with Catholic Relief Services.
Two years later, Eleanor packed five trunks to return to the United States for a six-year sojourn in South Bend, Indiana, where Jerome taught at the University of Notre Dame. Six children and seven trunks crossed the Atlantic to spend another year in Ireland, after which Jerome was chosen to direct a group of Peace Corps volunteers in Chile.
He had to fly ahead to make arrangements, so Eleanor took seven children and eight trunks on a boat that left from New York City, crossed the Panama Canal, and arrived 20 days later in Valparaiso, Chile. When they returned to the United States three years later, she was expecting another daughter and the family had acquired six more trunks.
After settling in Hull, Eleanor got her nine children through the Hull Public Schools, hundreds of band performances and high school musicals, and a dozen colleges. She encouraged them to spread their wings – if she had a case of empty nest syndrome, it was a very mild one – and enjoyed visiting them in Northampton, Washington, DC, Atlanta, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Dublin, Japan, and Hong Kong.
She organized family gatherings at several jazz festivals in California where her brother, the drummer Jake Hanna, played.
But she always came back to Hull. She loved the beach, the library, the commuter boat, the spa, her faith communities, her friends and neighbors, her children’s friends and neighbors, her caregivers. Her network of friends extended around the world and she stayed in touch with people throughout her life.
She worked for the Hull Public Library, for State Street South, for the Jacques Company, for the state Department of Elder Affairs, and the Disaster Recovery Team. She then spent 10 years working for FEMA, traveling across the country when disasters struck, lending a hand and making new friends.
She leaves her children, Andrew and his wife, Elizabeth Benson, of Northampton, Maria of Medford, Brigid Welber of Marblehead, Cecelia and her husband, Nobuhiro Tamba, of Seattle, Rory of San Francisco, Valentina and her husband, Paul Sweeting, of Washington, DC, Justin and his wife, Marissa, of San Francisco, Jerome of Atlanta, Paula and her fiancé, Eli Simpson, of San Jose. She was Grandma Eleanor to Aidan, Cameron, and Casey, and Elizabeth and Michael; and Aunt Ellie to many nieces and nephews. She was predeceased by her husband, her son Joseph, her sister Mary, and her brothers James, William, and Jake.
A memorial service will be held on Saturday, June 3, at 10 a.m. at St. Nicholas United Methodist Church, 130 Spring St., Hull.
Donations in her memory can be made to: St. Nicholas United Methodist Church; the Friends of the Hull Public Library, 9 Main St., Hull, MA 02045; or The Lafayette Rehabilitation and Skilled Nursing Facility, 25 Lafayette St., Marblehead, MA01945.