Remembering Our Sister, Judy Hess

Sep 30, 2019

National Staff –  Progressive Democrats of America


Judy Hess—force of nature, longtime PDA National Field Coordinator, Vice Chair of PDA’s Board, California State Co-Coordinator, former Chapter Leader in San Diego and Fresno, and progressive organizer in the California Democratic Party—has passed after a long battle with cancer.

A fervent advocate for peace and justice, Judy disarmed adversaries with her smile and inspired colleagues with her cheery determination and unwavering devotion to progressive causes, tirelessly steering PDA through organizational challenges and helping to build our future.

We miss you greatly, Judy—let our work and redoubled efforts in the years ahead serve as our memorial and thanks to you.


  1. Russell Greene

    Judy Hess has gone to god

    I can see her beautiful smile

    feel her rise

    the pain



    to reflect on a life

    beautifully lived,

    see her prince of a son





    to her and

    to all she had lived for





    A woman of profound integrity and courage

    a generous and tireless teacher

    fiercely devoted and

    unflinching in her faith

    that we would get there

    Onward beloved friend.

    I carry you with me.

  2. Rubbie Mckeever

    I lived in Fresno for a while and went to meetings at Denny’s where Judy was the leader. I also went to functions that she organized for the homeless people. She will be missed. I send my condolences to her family.

  3. Jim Carpenter

    It’s the lives and values of people like Judy (and Tim) and the other PDA folks that are still with us that make me proud to be associated with PDA. I was amazed to find Judy doing conference calls (and I am sure many other selfless things) when she was struggling with cancer. What an inspiration 🙂 Thank you, Judy.

  4. Holly Mosher

    What a great loss for both PDA and the world. Judy will be missed by more people than she’d probably ever imagine. A shining star that spread light wide and far.

  5. Carolyn Rosenstein

    I only met Judy online through PDA. She would give me computer tasks to work on. I was very sad when she became ill and we lost contact because she had to stop her PDA activity. I’m now even sadder that she has died and sorry that she had a tough ending.

  6. Kat Sanders

    Thanks to Judy’s Direction and Inspiration, PDA North Central Texas now reaches 12 Counties. That’s about as big as most states. She was a powerhouse. I’m glad I met her.
    Kat Sanders

  7. Frankie Love

    i say keep fighting for the people

  8. Ruth Carter

    Judy always demonstrated her true commitment to progressive causes, no matter what. She worked tirelessly to support PDA in any way needed. A true testament to the cause!

  9. Mike Chyba

    Judy is in heaven now

  10. Sarah Mahler

    Judy was a force for good in a difficult time. She was an example for us all and she will be missed. My deepest condolences to her family.

  11. Charlie Speno


  12. Fred Barger

    Rest in peace.

  13. Janis Kay

    It’s been difficult for me, hence not expressing my grief until now. Now…. because of this comment Mimi shared with us,“Tim Carpenter led a perfect life – because he led the life that God had intended him to live.” made me think….that’s Judy. She had a calling from God to help others, and succeeded so well, which was obvious by her actions. I know her spirit will continue to walk amongst us…guiding us, as Tim does.

    I’ll miss my co-worker, but mostly…my friend.

    Sincere condolences to her son Bill. God Bless.

  14. Mimi Kennedy

    Judy Hess has gone to God. Sept 26, around 9:30. Her son Bill hadn’t left her side all day. It’s his birthday. He repaid so tenderly, in these last few months, all the courage and devotion she showed him, as a single mom, when her husband, Bill’s father, deserted them before Bill was even born. 
I could never have been as effective as I was in PDA without her. She could pivot on a dime. She worked chains of command like a maestro. She organized an Election Protection Team early on that resulted is us getting a law named after us “The Mimi Kennedy and Judy Hess Voter Protection Act” to insure that Registrars would no longer cheat with impunity on the “random” selection of audit precincts by doingbthe selecting months before each election! Judy found out her registrar, Brandi Orth of Fresno, had been doing precisely that. No more.(Though Brandi failed upward, in the inexplicable —unless by malice?— laxity of election officials, Because they elected her President of the CA Association of them!) She organized a funeral once for a homeless woman she’d become familiar with doing work with that community. When the woman died, Judy had a funeral that included a street parade of Fresno’s homeless. 
She has gone somewhere good, even joyful.(Is Tim in the receiving line?) We had a lot of conversations about all that in the last weeks and months. She fought hard and then, little by little, gave into peaceful acceptance, with Bill interpreting and putting his life on hold to fulfill, as best he could, her wishes as, day by day, she sought to eke out a little more life and relationship connection with the strength she had left. “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change…” 
She was more than 30 years sober. 
Love is stronger than death, and the Beloved Community grows here daily with the work of those of us who understand from experience that we don’t have to be perfect to do good. 

Love you all— 

  15. Dave Keeler

    This is an edit of my earlier remarks, I was overwhelmed with the news of Judy’s passing and got the chronology of my remarks incorrect. This is the correct timeline of those remarks, a bit clearer and of course I approve re-posting.

    I did not know Judy was ill…

    Thank you for your remarks, Mimi. I also didn’t know about her work on the “Voter Protection Act” with you, or the great kindness Judy showed (once again) in organizing a funeral for a homeless person in Fresno. Organizing the funeral wake street parade of homeless for the deceased in Fresno ! — Classic Judy …

    I met Judy in San Diego (at Tim’s urging), while I was still living in Arizona and traveling to set up a new home in Santee. We met at a StarBucks in La Mesa to discuss using a volunteer-voter outreach program we had developed for the Dean campaign & later used by the Arizona Democratic State Party, for Mike Copass. Mike was the then PDA San Diego chapter leader, who ran against Rep. Susan Davis in the primary election of 2008. After the meeting & discussion with Judy, we did provide the program & training to use the program for Mike’s campaign.

    My first impressions of Judy was: vibrant, intelligent & happy. Always will to ‘get into the mix’ to achieve a positive outcome. Her work on the (2010?) PDA candidate questionnaire, the first real effort – I believe – to put together a standardized PDA for for venting candidates was outstanding.

    As I learned later, despite difficulties as a single mom, Judy raised an awesome son, while staying engaged in the issues of the day. Bill – I, as I am certain all who experienced her aura, extend out heartfelt condolences. I would thank you for sharing your mom with us; – but knowing her, I bet you would have been ‘hard pressed’ to stop her.

    To borrow a bit of Mimi’s closing remarks: Love Is Stronger Than Death; Judy & Tim walk together along our side.

    Love You All —

    Dave Keeler

  16. Mike Hersh

    Go with love, Judy Hess. Your passion and commitment always were second to none. We miss you even as you inspire all of us. We will never know your kind again. ❤️

  17. Steven Cobble

    Judy was one of PDA’s most dedicated activists, year after year. She was always there when Tim needed something done–and always there even after he was gone.
    And all our lives are better because we knew her.

  18. Conor Boylan

    Judy — I will never forget you. You were my eyes and ears at all times especially during the transition after Tim passed. We laughed, cried, argued & laughed again! A true friendship!

    Miss u J


  19. Debra Schrishuhn

    Dearest Judy, you were a beacon to us all. It was an honor to call you friend and colleague. Rest easy now.

  20. Margaret Okuzumi

    We will remember Judy as a diligent person who faithfully did what she could to make a difference, undeterred by ordinary obstacles. May the memory of her be blessed and may she rest in peace.

  21. Bryan Buchan

    I’ll remember her smile, her bright eyes, her kind heart, and her grit.

    Judy was a life force like no other, determined, focused, a champion of organizing a diverse citizenry, she provided PDA with tools and knowledge to fortify our organizational structure, producing effective campaigns and inspired activists.

    My heart goes out to Bill and our PDA family, peace be with you all.

  22. Dr Bill Honigman

    As her companion PDA Calif State Coordinator, I feel especially privileged to have known and worked with Judy. She will always have a place in my heart and mind. Onward!!

  23. Carole Levers

    Judy was an intrepid trooper! She relentlessly worked to increase PDA’s presence in CA and elsewhere. She is not forgotten.

  24. Randy Shannon

    Judy Hess leaves a legacy that will sustain PDA. Her diligence, attention to detail, broad conception of PDA’s role, her work ethic and constant search for organizational, political, and personal paths forward reflects the best qualities of PDA established by our founder Tim Carpenter. Let us remember Judy be emulating her commitment to build a progressive America.

  25. Mike Fox

    A tremendous inspiration and productive force of nature has left us. We will carry on in your memory, sister.