Rev. Judy Lee Wheeler Loehr (Oct. 10, 1942 - July 21, 2020) was a dear friend and ministry colleague, and we join her daughter Elise Loehr and other family members in grieving the sudden loss of this highly gifted, joyful, hospitable and compassionate servant of God.
With her family’s permission, we invite Judy’s colleagues and friends around the Church and nation, to celebrate her birthday, October 10, by sharing here your own special memories of her. Photos, memories, event programs are all welcome.
Judy’s rich and diverse educational, arts and ministry contexts included:
She returned to the Nashville area to be near her daughter, continuing to graciously serve as needed until her death.
Judy’s vibrancy and buoyant spirit have inspired folks of all ages and situations for many decades, in many settings, as she has sung, taught, directed, preached and embodied both faithful Alleluia and Kyrie eleison. We remember her with gratitude.
By Richard Eslinger
Merciful and loving God, at her baptism, your Holy Spirit graced your servant Judy with the gifts of music and song. These gifts came to full blossom in her singing and her encouragement of your faithful people in their hymns and songs and spiritual songs, and joyful dance. When the time was right, you called her to the ministry of Word and Sacrament, evoking other baptismal gifts for prophetic passion and pastoral compassion. Her legacy continues to bless and equip your people for their ministries that build up the Body of Christ and lead them in mission to your world. Her memory abides with us and we give you thanks for the gift of Judy to us and to your people. We bless you that you have blessed us with her service, her spirit of joy and caring, and her faith in you.
Pie Jesu Domine, dona eis requiem.
Dona eis requiem sempi eternam.
(O sweet Lord Jesus, grant them rest;
grant them everlasting rest.)
In 1989, I was working part-time in the Worship Section at the UM General Board of Discipleship, just a few 100 feet from where I work now in The Fellowship office. Judy have moved back to Nashville and blew into the office like a tornado, a force to be reckoned with. Hoyt Hickman came bounding out of his office with the biggest smile on his face. I know THIS was someone I needed to know!
Judy was my dear friend, my mentor, the thumb in my back. If she called and said "come dance" my only answer was "where and when do you want me and how high should I plan to jump?" We shared in many, many events of the Fellowship, as well as in other contexts. She led in Youth 88, Texas Conference Choir Camp, Junaluska Music Weeks, Annual Conference training events introducing UM Hymnal and Book of Worship 1989 and countless AC worship services. Most memorably of all, she conducted, and I danced, in UM Festival Choir Tours with tour guide and chaplain Jim and Diedre Kriewald, from 1986-1991: Hawaii and Australia; England, France and Switzerland; East and West Germany and Czech Republic; East Germany, Hungary, Austria, Yugoslavia, Italy; Soviet Union, Poland, Finland and Estonia. (Her fluent German saved our necks when the entire group was stranded in the East German railway station overnight.) She would. She would have the Fellowship Council to dinner whenever we met in Nashville---a fabulous hostess, with a home filled with icons and liturgical items from around the world. No matter the problems, health issues or situation, she could rise to the occasion. Her voice and her faith and her spirit were glorious. And then oh! how she could preach and bless and inspire. Thank you, dear Judy, of most blessed memory.
I got to know Judy through the Southeastern Jurisdiction Urban Workers Network. Judy planned worship for our convocation. I will always remember how each time we worshipped, she blessed us with a colorful, meaningful worship center on which we could focus.
Judy Loehr was a gracious, extremely talented Christian woman, who brought joy to the lives of many people. We shall be underpopulated without her. I first met Judy when she came to Bonn, Germany. Her husband Klaus was part of the Military Attache section of the US Embassy there. I was singing with the Bonn opera and teaching at Bonn University, and I formed Christian Arts, Inc., a group of young people from twenty-two nations. Back in the seventies, Judy became accompanist for our many musical-theater performances (including Godspell, Annie, You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown!) The youth adored Judy! She was full of life, added tremendous energy to the group, and was musically very talented. We also sang in worship services of the American Protestant Church and the Thomas More Roman Catholic Parish., who worship under the same roof there in Bonn. Judy performed Broadway musical numbers with me for the American Embassy American Club. It was a delightful time! Wonderful memories.
There are so many beautiful memories of my precious friend Judy Wheeler Loehr that it is difficult to choose just one! But, difficult as it is to choose ‘just one’, i’ve decided to go back to 1996 to my farewell celebration when I was changing from the staff at Brentwood United Methodist Church to serve in the Episcopal office with Bishop Kenneth Carder.
As you will soon discover, there was a multitude of loving, caring and creative persons involved, but Judy was at the center of them all! JUDY LOEHR was enacting the role of POPE; and another beloved friend enacting the role of CARDINAL was Sister Kathleen Flood, a member of the Order of the Sisters of Sinsinawa in Wisconsin!
In this hilarious farewell, my precious friend and former colleague in the General Board of Discipleship, JUDY LOEHR, in the even more hilarious role of POPE, sings to the tune of “How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?”, her version entitled “Who Never Has a Headache or a Hangnail?”!!!!!!!!!
Well, it is very obvious why I am sharing this very hilarious memory from my beloved friend Judy, as she had one of the most beautiful voices ever, and a spirit that will live on with me and thousands of others forever! May you Rest In Peace, dear Judy!!!!! I love you and always will!