Meg Judge, chairman of the board and CEO of the Estero Chamber of Commerce died Sunday, after a long fight with lung cancer.
But even a couple of weeks before her death she spoke confidently about herself and the chamber.
When asked about her health, Judge said, “We’re (the chamber) still running.”
“I have so much to do,” she said as she hurried off the call.
Her death was thought premature by her colleague, Lee County Commissioner Ray Judah.
“I was just absolutely devastated,” he said. “She was such a tremendous force in our community for so many years.”
Before Estero, Judge was the former commissioner of community affairs for New Jersey and executive director of the Essex County, New Jersey Republican Committee.
She moved, full-time, to Estero in 1992 and was the chairman of the board of the Estero Civic Association for five years. She founded of the Estero Chamber of Commerce in 1998 and is known for fighting for the boundaries of Estero and for keeping the community unincorporated.
“Cityhood will never work for Estero,” Judge said two weeks ago.
At that time she also spoke of her pride in the Estero visitor center and $5 million raised for the aquatic center at Florida Gulf Coast University.
Bonita Springs Mayor Ben Nelson said Judge was a determined person.
“When she was vocal she was vocal,” Nelson said. “When she put her mind to something she really didn’t mince words.”
Her ability to conceptualize, articulate and promote her vision made her a community leader, said Don Eslick chairman of the Estero Council of Community Leaders.
It was Judge who opened the Estero Post Office, brought the International Design Center to Estero and organized a public-private partnership to make the Germain Arena into a hurricane resistant location for international musicians. She worked to get Corkscrew Road widened and managed the landscaping of many road projects in Estero, including the construction of bicycle paths and sidewalks, Judah said.
Judge is also known for engaging with all members of the community.
She raised funds for several community organizations, including the Corkscrew Regional Ecosystem Watershed, which purchased environmentally sensitive land to protect water supplies and educated children about the environment.
Celebrate Estero was also an important event to Judge.
“She was the original leader in the community,” Eslick said.
A memorial service will be held at 5:30 p.m. Monday at St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church, 625 111th Ave. N., according to the News-Press.
A reception will be held after the service in St. John’s ballroom.