Judith Deon Sanders Wood passed away on March 28, 2022 after being diagnosed with ovarian cancer a week earlier. She was 80 years old.
Although she was born to Robert and Evelyn Griffith Sanders in Long Beach, CA on July 31, 1941, she was raised by her paternal grandmother Ruth Ellen Combs and her companion, William Oliver Coleman, whom Judy lovingly called “Ba” after her mother died when she was just three years old and her father was stationed in the Philippines during WWII. She married Paul B Wood in October 1959 and spent most of her life as a resident of Torrance, CA before relocating to Gilbert, AZ in 2003.
As an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Judy was grounded in her belief that she was a daughter of a Heavenly Father who loved her and that Jesus Christ was her Savior and constant companion. She gained a strong testimony of this truth as a young mother, and it guided her life. She believed that families are eternal as she and Paul were sealed in the Los Angeles Temple in September 2001. She looked forward to being reunited with her parents, her husband and daughter Donna Wood, all of whom predeceased her.
Judy was active in many programs with her membership in the Church, including Primary, Relief Society, and as a Stake ‘Campcrafter’ leader in the Young Women’s organization. She led a group of young women on a weeklong trip where they canoed down the Colorado River in 1983. She knew how to plan a party and feed a crowd and those talents were utilized as she organized social events and activities for the Gardena II Ward in Torrance, CA for many years. After her move to Gilbert, she organized the Empty Nesters group, planned many dinners for the East Valley Men’s Shelter and was the Ward Librarian for many years. She also served as a cafeteria worker in the Mesa, AZ Temple and as an Office Worker in the Gilbert, AZ Temple.
With a zest for learning, Judy enrolled in a beginning quilting class at the local adult school in 1977, which ultimately led her to open Quilts Unlimited, the local quilt shop which quickly became a quilter’s destination in the South Bay area. She had a gift for teaching and shared her expertise and love of fabrics, color, and design with all who wanted to learn. She was a marketing genius and the store tripled in size during its 20-year run. She founded the Southern California Association of Quilt Shop Owners, the Southern California Shop Hop and was integral in the creation and growth of the popular Road to California Quilter’s Conference. In 1992 Judy addressed an international quilter’s organization in Frankfurt, Germany. When she moved to Gilbert, AZ she organized the San Tan Quilters Group that is still going strong today. In addition to her quilt shop, Judy had a wedding planning business, Simple Elegance by Deon for several years.
Judy was passionate about serving her community and spent many years as a Girl Scout leader, inspiring nearly 100 girls to become confident, courageous and strong young women as they earned badges and camped in primitive locations. Of those she led, 12 girls earned their First Class Award, which, at the time, was the highest award in Girl Scouting. In addition, she served in several officer positions with the local elementary school PTA.
After her husband Paul’s death in March 2002, Judy reconnected with her childhood sweetheart Jim Myers. They had been an important part of each other’s lives through their tumultuous teens and after a 44-year separation they were able to rekindle a love they once knew and married in February 2004. Jim moved to Gilbert, AZ to be with Judy, but also spent time in northern CA to keep up with business dealings. Judy’s grandchildren loved to ride on the back of Jim’s motorcycle and play with him when they visited. Jim died in October 2019.
Judy was all about her family and adored her five children, 13 grandchildren, her in-laws, and nieces and nephews. She was a loyal friend to many and was often the first to respond to a need or crisis. Her vibrant red hair matched her fiery temper. She loved the warmth of the desert sun and took every opportunity to be in Palm Springs, Indio, or on a boat on the Colorado River. She was an expert cook, but pie crusts were her specialty which she filled expertly. Her children continue to make her legendary tacos and “mom’s rolls” are still being made every holiday or special event.
In October 2011 Judy decided she needed a dog and rescued her beloved five-year-old Sadie from a local shelter. Sadie brought her much joy and happiness and has been her constant companion for the past 10.5 years. Sadie watched over and comforted Judy in her last days and mourns her loss as much as the rest of us.
Judy is survived by her daughters Paula Malmfeldt, Darla Briggs, and Theresa Cox, her sons Ronald Wood and Kenneth Wood, her 13 grandchildren and 4 great-grandchildren. Her family grieves her loss, but they take comfort in knowing that Judy is enjoying her long-awaited reunion with her husband Paul, and her daughter Donna.
A viewing will be held Thursday, April 21, 2022, from 6 pm to 8 pm at Gilbert Memorial Park at 2100 E Queen Creek Rd in Gilbert, AZ. Funeral services will be held Friday, April 22, 2022, at 11am, at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 4170 S Ranch House Pkwy in Gilbert, AZ. You can watch remotely via Zoom at https://zoom.us/j/92875426605?pwd=bUFDSEVhMzViNDBWZmhPa09ieDlmUT09 Passcode: 955505.
Graveside services will be held on Saturday, April 23, 2022 at 2pm at Roosevelt Memorial Park, 18255 Vermont Ave, Gardena, CA 90248, Flowers can be sent to Gilbert Memorial Park.
Please take a minute and share a favorite memory or funny story you have of Judy.