Judith Clemence Brownell

March 12, 1939January 4, 2021

Judith Clemence Brownell, 81 of South Dartmouth, MA., passed away peacefully at her home on January 4th, 2021 surrounded by her family. She was the daughter of the late Maurice and Gwendolyn Clemence of Wellesley, MA. She was predeceased by her sister Cynthia Dervin of Winston Salem, NC. Born on March 12, 1939 in Newton, MA.

A graduate of Wellesley High School, Wheaton College (class of 1960) and Boston University, where she received her master’s degree in musical theory.

Music was the anchor to her soul. She devoted her life to educating and sharing this passion with others. She expressed no greater joy than to have worked with many talented musicians and singers in her musical career.

Professionally, Judith’s passion for music led her to teaching at Friends Academy, and in the Dartmouth Public School system. For almost three decades she was the Music Director at the First Unitarian Church of New Bedford. Her deepest passion was playing the Flentrop organ and performing classical music with fellow singers. Judith also served as Director for the New Bedford Choral Society and was the Musical Director of the Woods Hole Cantata Consortium for many years.

Judith was also a talented researcher and formed a self-employed business as a title examiner. She was often found working on complex and historic properties that required delving into the earliest records of Bristol and Dukes County.

Her love of the earth molded her into an ardent environmentalist. In concert the Dartmouth Conservation Commission, she was engaged in wetlands protection projects and preservation of historic conservation and agricultural lands. She was also a long term Dartmouth town meeting member.

Judith leaves behind her two sons whom she loved deeply; Canby Dautel Jr. of Southborough, MA, and his wife Rhaea Photopoulos-Dautel. Peter B. Dautel, of South Dartmouth, MA., and his fiancee, Rachel C. Gauthier. Her grand children Kevin Dautel, Emily Dautel, Alyson Dautel, and Sienna Dautel. Her brother in law Jim Dervin, and her beloved niece and nephews Anne, John, and Jamie Dervin. She leaves behind many beloved people including her first husband Canby Dautel, Sr. and her second husband David A. Brownell.

Funeral services will not be held at this time due to COVID restrictions. Future arrangements for a celebration of life service will be announced. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Dartmouth Natural Resources Trust in So. Dartmouth, MA., 318 Chase Rd., No. Dartmouth 02747, or via Alternatively to the restoration and maintenance project of the Flentrop organ, at the First Unitarian Church of New Bedford, 71 8th Street, New Bedford, MA. 02740. Arrangements are in the care of the Waring-Sullivan Home at Dartmouth. For online tributes, please visit:


  • First Unitarian Church
  • Dartmouth Natural Resources Trust


  • Celebration of Life at a Later Date


Judith Clemence Brownell

have a memory or condolence to add?

John Yankee

January 12, 2021

In August of 2007, before I even arrived on Cape Cod, Judy wrote me an extensive and enthusiastic letter sharing the make-up and history of music-making in the Falmouth area and around the region, encouraging me to contact certain individuals and organizations, and offering to help me in any way she could. During my twelve years directing the Falmouth Chorale, Judy would send insightful and positive 'reviews' after almost every concert run. I valued her generosity, kindness, and musical joy a great deal. It's a shame I never got to visit her sheep farm...

Patricia Ridzon

January 10, 2021

There were two sides of Judy and I had the pleasure of knowing both of them The serious side playing and really feeling her music. The other Judy at one our famous parties full of laughter and jokes.

Judi Havens

January 9, 2021

I met Judy through the First Unitarian Church. Her gift with music for our services, her infectious smile and her fast intellect will be surely missed. She was always very very kind to me, a newcomer to the community and church when I joined. Her playing of the organ transported my soul often to a peaceful place. I will carry the memories of her with me always. May she rest in peace.

Laurence Fitzmaurice

January 7, 2021

Gussie, as she was also known to our Wellesley High School class of 1956, was one of the stalwarts of the class and a faithful reunion goer.
Loved to play symphonic grade pipe organs for religious services as well recreationally .
A multifaceted woman whose obituary explains her contributions very well.
A one-of-a-kind who will be missed .
She would have been appalled by the DC goings on of 1/6/2021.
Larry Fitzmaurice

Tina (Lundberg) Blount

January 7, 2021

Gussie, as Judith was called in high school, was a dynamic and, yet, quirky friend. She was interesting and interested in everything. Gussie had a fun sense of humor. She came to all our high school reunions.....our luncheons every year and our three day affairs every five years. We will all miss seeing her! RIP Gussie!

Susan Berteaux

January 7, 2021

I loved singing with Judy in the Falmouth Chorale and under her direction in the Woods Hole Cantata. I will be forever grateful to Judy for not only creating music throughout her life, but for teaching and inspiring me and so many others to want to make beautiful music - that is the greatest gift Judy gave us. I will always remember her bright "sparkle" that hinted that something amazing was about to happen.

Margaret King

January 6, 2021

Judy shared part of her life with me when we both were members of the Greater New Bedford Choral Society. Her singing voice was clear and strong while her keyboarding and choral direction were both excellent. I admired her capabilities immensely. My sincere sympathies go out to her family. May she rest in peace.

Philip Lima

January 6, 2021

From the bottom of my heart I thank you, Judy, for over 40 years of encouragement, instruction, collaboration, and friendship.
I know we’re singing together, DU HOLDE KUNST, ICH DANKE DIR!

Felicia Urbanski

January 6, 2021

Judy was one of the first people I met in 1981 when I arrived as a young music teacher at the Dartmouth Public Schools. We met via the late Bob and Ruth Burgess, at the Gidley Farm in North Dartmouth - and ours felt like an instant friendship! Judy's skills as a pianist and organist were a thrill for me to collaborate with as a violinist. She insisted on many rehearsals before our first recital together held at the Unitarian Church, which I eventually joined. The recital was a kind of "breakthrough" in my ability to perform music with passion and ease in front of a large audience, as I felt transported by Judy's beautiful accompaniment and thorough preparation. She was indeed a blessing to me as I navigated my way through challenges in my work in the schools, as well as a great source of encouragement. Judy's inspiration to live a life of integrity and with a joyful sense of humor will continue. I'll never forget her bringing a bagful of kazoos to a restaurant for someone's birthday....and how she led our "musical" rendition of "happy birthday" on those boistrous, squeeky kazoos, much to the chagrin of the management! I send my love and condolences to her family at this difficult time. I had heard much about her children, their partners, and later her grandchildren, as she always spoke with great fondness about every one of you. May God's blessings and love surround you as you support one another with grace and courage. I look forward to hearing about the upcoming celebration of Judy's life!

Jerry Cowens

January 6, 2021

Mrs. Dautel (Brownell) was a wonderful lady. I remember her kindness she showed me while I stayed with the Dautel family in Dartmouth during several summers. She treated me like a son. Prayers go out to all her family and friends.