COUNTY MOURNS THE LOSS OF JUDITH M. PRICE

COUNTY MOURNS THE LOSS OF JUDITH M. PRICE

Flags at all county buildings will fly at half-mast this week in honor of Judith M. Price, who died Tuesday morning at Memorial Medical Center after a long and spirited fight with cancer.
Commission Chairman Gilbert T. Apodaca called Price’s death “a loss beyond words for Doña Ana County.” His sentiments were being echoed and iterated in offices, meeting rooms and hallways all across the county as word spread of Judy’s death.
Those of us who were privileged to know Judy and to work beside her knew her to be a woman of resolute principles and magnanimous character. She was generous with her time, forthright in her advice and always quick with a smile. During her two stints as acting county manager, she demonstrated on a daily basis her ability to grasp and handle complex issues with humor and grace.
Her reputation was regional. On July 31, 2001, the New Mexico Chapter of the American Planning Association named Judy Price Professional Planner of the Year for the state. It was only the latest in a long string of professional awards and recognitions that spanned a 24-year planning career in El Paso and Doña Ana County.
As a supervisor, she was demanding without being overbearing. By example, she taught those with whom she worked that a can-do attitude is a primary factor in achieving organizational and personal success. She always emphasized the “big picture” and worked hard to educate elected officials, department heads and staff members about meaningful community development. Her work ethic was so substantial that she rarely took full days off even for chemotherapy treatments. She joked about hair loss. She smiled about injections.
As director of Community Development, she understood the value of thoughtful planning, and she developed and nurtured a staff whose loyalty to her vision – and, indeed, to Judy as a person – was seldom questioned. Her reputation as a dedicated, knowledgeable and principled department head led two boards of county commissioners to seek her help in managing the county during transition periods.
During her most recent tenure as acting county manager, I had the opportunity to work with Judy on a daily (sometimes hourly) basis. I never heard her raise her voice. I never saw her lose her cool. I never once heard her complain. About anything: the relentless demands of the job; the insidious cancer inside her; the endless stream of pink phone messages that made their ways to her cluttered desk. What I saw was a woman whose will to succeed – at life and at work – was tremendous.
Sir Rabindranath Tagore wrote, "Death is not extinguishing the light. It is putting out the lamp because the dawn has come."
The light that Judy Price brought to all of us was a bright light indeed, and will continue to illuminate the work of those who were fortunate enough to call ourselves her colleagues. For Judy, a new dawn has come and the lamp that was her life has been put out – gently, quietly. But we who knew her and loved her know that plenty of light remains.
Judy began her employment with Doña Ana County on April 15, 1991 as director of planning. She was named acting assistant county manager in September of 1991 and held the position for four months before returning to the Planning Department. In 1994, under her leadership, the department was renamed the Department of Community Development to indicate the wide range of services provided.
On Dec. 13, 1995, Judy was appointed acting county manager for nearly seven months while a search for a permanent manager was underway. In July of 2000, she was again named acting county manager, and she remained in the position until Jan 22, 2001.
Viewing has been scheduled at 5 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 6, 2001 at Getz Funeral Home, with an opportunity for friends and colleagues to speak at 7 p.m. Funeral services will be held Friday, Sept. 7 at 5:30 p.m. at St. Albert the Great Hall (Newman Center) in Las Cruces.
The family has requested that memorial donations be made to the American Cancer Society, and that any cards sent to the family have images of flowers on the front.
For more information, call county Public Information Director Jess Williams at (505) 647-7229. Residents calling from outside the Las Cruces area may call toll-free at 1-877-827-7200 and request extension 7229.