Judith Leigh Swanson

September 11, 1936September 26, 2020

Judith L. Swanson (nee Palmer) passed away peacefully September 26 surrounded by loved ones at her home in Gloucester, MA. She was born in Salem MA on September 11, 1936 to Leigh J. and Genevieve Palmer, the middle of five siblings (4 girls and 1 boy). She attended elementary school in Salem, moved with her family to Marblehead in 1948, and graduated from Marblehead High School in 1954. She was well liked and a good student in high school where she played many sports and was a head cheerleader. After graduation, she was a bank teller in Boston where she met her husband Dale Swanson, moved to Quincy MA, and began to raise a family of two boys – Clayton and Eric Swanson. The family moved to Pelham MA for six years where she was an active member of the community and was integral in helping her husband obtain his PhD in economics at the University of Massachusetts.

A passion for adventure led the family to move to Fairbanks, Alaska, where Dale was a Professor at the University of Alaska. Judy embraced all the wonderful things Alaska has to offer such as hunting, fishing, camping, exploring, and was a vibrant part of the university community. After the sudden death of her husband five years later, Judy returned to Pelham MA where she continued to raise and care for her two young boys. She began working part time and embarked on a new career, enrolling at the University of Massachusetts to learn accounting. She went on to become a senior executive and Treasurer at a large road construction company (All States Asphalt, Inc.).

After Judy’s children were grown, she moved to West Springfield and lived with partner Alfred Whittaker. Together they enjoyed fly fishing, their German shorthaired pointers, and time with friends and family. When Al passed in 2007, Judy moved full time to her home in Gloucester.

Wherever Judy went she made friends easily and maintained those friendships throughout her life. She was well liked and had a tremendous sense of humor and put people at ease with her caring ways. Her hobbies were extensive. There was so much she was interested in: travel, nature, foreign cultures, gardening. She was a passionate birdwatcher and an avid reader in every subject from science to history to ancient and modern classics. Judy had a very intelligent and curious mind, was very wise, and shared her always-positive outlook about life and life’s lessons.

For the past 18 years, Judy greatly enjoyed her home with its beautiful flower gardens and views of Gloucester harbor. She was surrounded by family; her son Clayton living with and helping care for her; her son Eric and daughter-in-law Lynne next door, and regular visits by grandchildren which she loved very much. She had regular visits and calls with many close friends, siblings, and nieces and nephews, all of whom she loved. Her dog Milli brought great joy and comfort to her.

Judy was vibrant and beautiful inside and out and still had so much love to give and receive. She will be greatly missed by all who knew her.

Judith was predeceased by her husband Dale Swanson and survived by her sons Clayton and Eric and daughter-in-law Lynne Swanson of Gloucester, her siblings Valerie Palmer of Hilton Head, SC, Lorelle Viselli of Gorham, ME, Amelia McKenney of Rye, NH, and Leigh “Jud” Palmer of Jefferson, ME. Cherished grandmother of Zach Swanson of Seattle, WA, and Kate Swanson of Gloucester, MA.

Arrangements: A Zoom video memorial (an easy to use online virtual service) will be held Thursday October 8th, 6PM EST. For more information please contact Eric Swanson at

There will be a memorial service on Friday, October 9 from 10 a.m. until 12 p.m. at Eustis & Cornell Funeral Home, 142 Elm Street, Marblehead, MA 01945. Burial will follow at Waterside Cemetery, Marblehead, MA.

As an expression of sympathy, in lieu of flowers, donations in Judy’s honor may be made to Cape Ann Animal Aid:


  • Zoom Video Memorial

    Thursday, October 8, 2020

  • Memorial Service

    Friday, October 9, 2020

  • Graveside Service

    Friday, October 9, 2020


Judith Leigh Swanson

have a memory or condolence to add?

Felicia Lin

October 8, 2020

I’ve always felt an inexplicable, deep, personal affinity with Aunt Judy. She had a very special place in my heart. She was one of the first people who held me as a baby and was a lifelong friend to my parents, but we also had our own unique bond. To me she was a supportive, loving, a warm, accepting, open-minded mother-like figure, and an extended member of our family. Over the years I have visited with her and I have several fond memories of our visits, but now that she is gone, it seems that there were not nearly enough. I will miss her dearly and always hold her in my heart.

Janie Steed

October 2, 2020

Judy was my dear Friend for more than 20 years. The true meaning of a Lady inside and out. A dear Friend in hard times as well as good.
Judy dearly loved her Children, here pride and joy in life was being an amazing Mother, and Grandmother. There was nothing I could not share with Judy, my memories of her are countless.
Her attitude was positive regardless of what was happing. her selflessness showed in all she did.
Her Friendship is a sacred Memory....... I miss you Judy, our loss is Heaven's gain.
To Her wonderful Loving Family... I Pray for Comfort, and Strength that only God can give at this time of grief and tremendous loss. God Bless You


Rest in Perfect Peace My precious Friend. I will never forget you.

Marcia Stuart

October 1, 2020

Judy and I were room mates at MGH this past April. The minite we met we became fast friends. continuing to text almost daily since. We shared recipes. memories, family news , books, gardening info etc. Judy was a remarkable lady! Sweet. wise, funny, inquisitive, loving, warm and always seeking new ideas and adventures. She spoke lovingly of her family and friends so much that this new comer felt like she knew everyone. How lucky was Judy to have such a warm, caring, loyal family. She was truly blessed! I shall fondly remember and miss my new friend. She blessed my life. God Bless.

David Puopolo

October 1, 2020

I want to send my condolences to the entire Swanson family. I’m Amy Powers Smith’s husband David. Amy absolutely loved Judy. They could talk about birds for hours. If Amy was cognizant at this point I know that she would be devastated by Judy’s passing. The future is not written and I do know that someday Amy and Judy will meet again and have many talks of birds
Peace and healing to the Swanson family.

Lucy & Andy Petter

October 1, 2020

We met Judy several times over the years. She was always very accommodating & welcoming. She made us feel like family & she had a wonderful voice & always a smile of her face. We know she will be deeply missed! Our thoughts are with all her family at this difficult time,
Andy & Lucy Petter

Stephen Milley

September 30, 2020

Just thinking of Aunt Judy puts a smile on my face. I didn't really meet her until I was 9 or 10 (as she was in Alaska) but once I did she left a big impression on me. My summers in MA with my family, my cousins, and all my aunts are some of my fondest memories growing up. When I became an adult and moved to CA, she even took the time to visit me (with my Mom and Aunt Lorelle) which was an an incredible time. While I didn't see Aunt Judy much, I'll miss her. She was a wonderful woman.

Dinah Naske

September 30, 2020

My husband and Dale taught together at the University of Alaska. Judy and I were academic wives with small children. I was attracted to her and her warm laugh and sparkling smile.. we have kept in touch over the years and she was happy with her life back on her home turf. My condolences to her sons and her extended family.

Patrick Krawczynski

September 30, 2020

Condolences. Physically she is gone, but memories are forever. My parents now have someone else up there.

Colleen Palmer

September 30, 2020

Judy was valiant- a woman who embraced life with optimism, bravery, and steadfastness. She was patient, understanding, loving, adventuresome, and responsible. Her smile was always welcoming assuring you that she was so glad to see "you". Her intellectual curiosity lead her to study many subjects as she and her brother questioned and learned. She loved Christmas and spoiled us with her generosity. She was a wonderful cook known for her turkey dressing and homemade spaghetti sauce.
We will miss her ever so much. A light has gone from our lives but I am sure she is causing cosmic explosions as she continues her journey. A petite Warrior was she, Judith Leigh , challenging us to do better just by knowing her.
In Loving Memory, Her Sister in law and in Love, Colleen

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