Judy Emily Woltjen was born on May 18, 1939, in St Louis, Missouri, and passed on June 1, 2022 in Fayetteville, Arkansas. After graduating from Ferguson High School in Missouri, Judy attended nursing school and worked as a registered nurse for over 40 years. In 1957, she met a young second lieutenant in the Army that recently graduated from engineering school named Duane Woltjen. They started their journey together of deep love and adventure which included cave exploring, whitewater racing, canoeing, hiking, trail construction and conservation activism. Judy and Duane were only one week away from their 63rd anniversary upon her passing.
In 1969, as a young mother, Judy testified at a United States Senate hearing on clean air. Her testimony was part of a movement that led to the landmark legislation now known as the Clean Air Act of 1970. This was just the beginning of Judy dedicating much of her life to conservation and preserving nature for all to enjoy. She lived a remarkable and exemplary life of faith, love, hiking, canoeing, and dedication to conservation. Judy, along with her husband and countless others, worked on preserving the rivers of Missouri and Arkansas. They also led the effort to construct a 32-mile addition to the Ozark Highlands Trail. She lived life to the fullest, impacting many with her passion for conservation and astute nursing skills.
Judy and Duane have two grown children, Mark and Brett. Judy was a proud grandmother of five and recently celebrated the newest addition to the family, a great-grandson.
By Kris McMillen
Billy (McMillen) and I first met Judy when we joined the trail construction crew of the Sylamore Section of the Ozark Highlands Trail. She was always so kind and such a hard-working lady. I mainly remember her in the kitchen at the group camp, always doing something. She always had us put bleach in the dish rinse water, which I thought was a great idea.
One time the crew went out to eat at Jody’s in Fifty-Six, AR. As you know, Judy was a retired nurse. There was a very old man at the next table in a wheelchair. He started choking and Billy and Judy jumped up and they saved his life.