After spreading kindness for decades with her husband, a woman continues alone ... in her husband’s own, unique way.
Judy Orava said she doesn’t think she does anything special. She said she simply likes to show kindness to the world. However, her efforts have not gone unnoticed. An anonymous letter written to The Standard describes Judy as a precious woman who spreads happiness to others.
“She cared so lovingly for her husband of over 50 years until his passing over a year ago,” the letter said. “Together they faithfully visited care centers with her husband dressed in suits for most of the holidays – a flag suit for the Fourth of July, a Santa suit for Christmas … Jack always had a funny story or joke, but most of all the two of them were smiling and sharing hugs. The sweetest part of this story is seeing Judy Orava now don the suits and continuing to bring happiness to others. (She’s) just a great Christian lady.”
Judy said she met Jack in the late ’50s on a double date.
Jack served in the United States Navy. Judy met him while he was stationed in Olathe, Kansas.
Judy said Jack then began to drive all the way from Olatha to Excelsior to visit her.
They owned the Y Standard Station for about 20 years. Jack never met a stranger, she said. They loved their business. They loved the people.
After Jack retired, he didn’t enjoy traveling as many others do. He worked in the yard. He liked to keep his cars clean, Judy said.
He did enjoy spending the Fourth of July in his hometown of in Michigan. Judy said during the holiday, the town of 200 would grow to hold a couple thousand.
Judy and Jack began their nursing home visits after making so many friends during her mother’s stay.
“I like to do things for other people, I really do,” she said. “To bring a smile makes my heart feel good.”
Sometimes she brings little notes and cards. She plays games and works puzzles with them. She brings magazines residents can share with their neighbors.
“I never thought about it being so special, but when you look back on things ... it makes me feel good that’s why I do it,” she said. “It lifts my heart to see them smile.”
Some of the residents don’t have families, she said. Many others live so far away they cannot visit regularly. All the residents need someone to look forward too.
Others have heard of Judy’s kindness as well. Every year, during Flack Memorial’s blood drive, they call and ask for his homemade peanut butter pies. Last week, she baked cookies for an Eagles Club fundraiser.
Judy said she simply tried to keep a smile on her face. She offers her assistance to the elderly at Walmart. She tries to teach her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren to follow her example.
She would like them to be kind. She would like them to say good things about people. She would like them to treat everyone well. Most of all, she said she wants them to be happy.
Judy said she would love her family to live like Jack. He stayed in a good mood. He just loved life.
“He was a sweetheart,” she said. “He never met a stranger.”