Judy Kessinger Hilton July 13, 1942 – December 15, 2020
Judy Kessinger Hilton of Abilene died December 15, 2020. She was born to Ed and Mona Kessinger July 13, 1942 in Wichita, KS. Judy married Ralph Hilton August 1, 1964. A celebration of her life will be announced and held at some point after the Covid pandemic has passed.
After graduation from Junction City High School in 1960, she earned her bachelor of science in speech pathology at Wichita University Institute of Logopedics in 1964 and her masters there in 1969. She worked as a speech pathologist at the Institute of Logopedics until she and family moved to Abilene in 1971, to purchase Abilene Printing Company. She then worked speech pathology for the Central Kansas Cooperative until her retirement.
Judy was an active member of the First United Methodist Church, serving on several church committees and as a member of the John Wesley Bell Choir and directed the children’s Ring Praise bell choir. She was a volunteer in reading programs in Dickinson County Schools. As a member of the End of the Trail Quilters Guild, she crafted Hospice Quilts for distribution to patients in hospice and was an avid reader, bridge and mahjong player.
Judy was a great woman of faith and she was indeed an incarnation of God’s love on earth. She participated on the 1963 March on Washington where Martin Luther King said, “I have a dream” and she walked the paths of Jesus in Israel and renewed her baptism in the Jordan River. Judy always acted out of kindness and love. Judy had an open heart. She would share how each person is not better or worse than another, but “different,” bringing strengths to nourish and weaknesses to overlook.
Her nature to always look at things in a positive light made her a beacon of joy and laughter. Judy taught her children, “Don’t be sad it’s over. Be glad it happened.”
She was quick to laugh, including at herself, though she freely admitted she wasn’t a good teller of jokes. Her sense of humor was sharp and dry, perhaps understated yet ever-present. In college, Judy earned the nickname “Carrie” as in Carrie Nation. Judy was a supporter and enforcer of order and efficiency, both in the family and among friends. She loved children, Dairy Queen, the smells of chocolate and of roses, sailing with Ralph, and was an avid Kansas basketball fan.
Judy’s mother was a newspaper columnist in Junction City and described her daughter upon high school graduation this way: “It would be difficult for us to tell you how much of a void her leaving left in our home. We lost more than a daughter, the family lost their second mother, and the office lost a real newspaper woman. Judy was a columnist, bookkeeper, cook, chauffeur, baby sitter, supervisor of the homework, disciplinarian of the young ones, but more than anything else, she is one of her parents’ best friends. We miss her.”
Her brother, Jan, wrote on Facebook, “While I say that Judy probably was the nicest person I have known, she was tough. Judy understood that to learn to overcome frustration, a person must at times be frustrated. To learn to give their best effort, a person must be challenged. To learn to succeed, a person must learn to overcome failure. This approach is not an easy one, but the legacy of her efforts will be experienced for decades to come by each child who was blessed to have Judy work with them and for all who called her friend or family.”
Judy’s passing leaves a void in Abilene and for all she touched in her outreach, teaching and the example she lived. Judy was a partner in nurturing and caring for her students and a professional who cared about each person as an individual, a person who put the needs of others ahead of her own. We lose a giver, a committed educator, a leader, a follower and supporter, a person whose pursuit of excellence raised standards for the community.
Judy was predeceased by husband Ralph Hilton; parents Ed and Mona Kessinger and brother, Kurt Kessinger. She is survived by her children Sean Hilton (Kristine Meyer), Abilene; Robin (Stephanie Oura) Hilton, North Arlington, VA; and Shannon (David) Kelman, Westwood, KS; Grandchildren George and Clementine Hilton, Ashton Baker, Laila Kelman and great grandson James Hamilton; sisters Kristin Benjamin, Woodland Hills, CA: Lisa (Larry) Divel, Abilene; and brother Jan (Jeanne) Kessinger, Overland Park, and many nieces and nephews.
Memorials may be made to the End of the Trail Quilters Guild and may be mailed to Martin Becker Carlson Funeral Home, 414 NW 3rd St., Abilene, Kansas 67410