“When she got the news she was terminally ill, she said, ‘I’m not afraid. I’m not upset. I’m ready to meet my God”
— Rev. John Lunden
NAPLES — Meg Judge wanted her memorial mass to be more celebration than somber.
In her final weeks, she orchestrated the entire event, including the role of the four priests who presided.
“She made it very clear we were to celebrate,” said Rev. John Ludden. “I’m not going against Meg even now.”
Many of the area’s most prominent leaders attended Judge’s funeral Monday at St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church in Naples, including Lee County Sheriff Mike Scott, Estero Fire Chief Scott Vanderbrook, Estero Chamber of Commerce President John Garvalia, several county commissioners, fire commissioners and area business operators.
They gathered to honor the founder of the Estero Chamber of Commerce and celebrate a life well lived. Judge died July 3 at the age of 65.
Friends described her as dynamic, classy and in control. The Rev. Jerry Kaywell, Judge’s spiritual leader and confessor for the last 12 years, described a lesser known side of Margaret Mary “Meg” Judge that was revealed only to a select few.
“She had a tremendous love affair going on,” declared Kaywell, who ministers at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Punta Gorda. “She was deeply, deeply in love. She was in love with the Lord Jesus Christ.”
A former executive with the Republican National Committee in New Jersey, Judge is credited with bringing government leaders, business owners and community members together for the good of Estero. Under her leadership, the Estero Chamber of Commerce lobbied to bring road improvements, sidewalks, business development and parks into the rapidly growing community.
“Meg was doing God’s work, and she knew it,” Kaywell said. “Everything she did was consecrated, but she wasn’t religious about it.”
Although Judge asked Kaywell for an advanced copy of his homily so she could edit it, Kaywell said he never wrote one out.
“Sorry, Meg,” he said.
He related how Judge “spoke” to him after her death as he was praying about what to say in the eulogy, saying, “Make it brief, don’t talk about me, and then sit down!”
Rev. Hugh McGuigan said Judge shared the strong faith of her namesake, Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque, although she preferred to go by the Irish nickname Meg.
McGuigan credited Judge with helping make connections to expedite the construction of Our Lady of Light Catholic Church in south Lee County.
“I don’t think the church would have been completed if I didn’t have the help and persistence of Meg to push it along at certain points,” McGuigan said. After pushing through a few setbacks, the church was finished and dedicated in 2007.
Rev. Ludden said Judge personally provided funds for St. John the Evangelist to erect a crucifix and two other statues in the sanctuary at the parish. He announced a statue near the chapel would be dedicated in her honor.
“When she got the news she was terminally ill, she said, ‘I’m not afraid. I’m not upset. I’m ready to meet my God,” Ludden related.
After a blessing in the Memorial Garden, family and friends gathered in the Parish Life Center to celebrate a life filled with purpose and passion.
“Long may she rein!” Kaywell said.