Judy Ann Rankin

December 16, 1955June 2, 2019

Seattle native Judy Ann Rankin _ nee Backman _ died from congestive heart failure on June 2 at her home in Wilmington, N.C. Born Dec. 16, 1955, she was 63. She was preceded in death by her father Harry Backman, her mother Emmy Backman, and her brother Bill Backman. Judy grew up in the neighborhood of Magnolia. She was a 1974 graduate of Queen Anne High School and earned a B.S. in Nursing in 1979 from the University of Washington. She was a labor and delivery nurse in Washington, D.C., Fairfax County, Va., and Wilmington, N.C. Judy was born with a hole in her heart. Surgeons at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota corrected it when she was three years old. One year when she was still a small child she was the Northwest Heart Child of the Year. In that capacity she appeared onstage at charitable-fundraising events, including one at Seattle Center with international comedian Viktor Borge and another with stage and screen star Carol Channing. She overcame her heart defect to live a very athletic life well into middle age. She loved to ski on both snow and water. She taught swimming for a decade and swam master-class competitions of a mile and one-half in her 30s. She jogged through her 40s, played tennis into her 50s, and loved boating. She spoke Swedish in tribute to her family heritage, and French, inspired by a semester in France as a college sophomore. She possessed a captivating character. She had a great sense of humor and was a witty tease. She loved to laugh. She was the beautiful blond all-American girl next door. Her megawatt smile was hypnotizing. People in every station of life _ high and low, old and young _ found her lack of pretension and warm, engaging, vivacious personality magical. And she had grit beneath that sweet charm. She first was treated for congestive heart failure in 2003. It worsened slowly over the next 16 years. She fought it with determined exercise. In late 2009 open-heart surgery to replace her aortic heart valve led to a stroke that left her partially disabled. She worked daily to recover as much physical ability as possible, and became largely independent despite it. Her condition weakened her progressively the past two years, but she never yielded to it. Perhaps her strongest characteristic was her relentless upbeat optimism, even in the face of huge setbacks. Her resilience and perseverance inspired everyone who knew her. She had no self-pity in her. Her first marriage, to Erik Stromberg, who was executive director of North Carolina’s seaports and of the U.S. trade association in Washington, D.C. for all U.S. ports, ended in divorce. Her second marriage, to Robert A. Rankin, a now-retired Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, was in its 15th year at her death. Survivors include her husband Robert, of Wilmington, N.C.; her older brother Mark Backman, of Anacortes, Wash.; and three children by her first marriage: Karl Stromberg of Raleigh, N.C., Anna Stromberg Grinstead of Los Angeles, Calif., and Viktor Stromberg, of Laramie, Wyo. The family will hold private interment services at a family memorial site outside Seattle; arrangements are incomplete. In lieu of flowers, donations in her memory are requested for Planned Parenthood Inc. or the American Heart Association.


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Judy Ann Rankin

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Tom Susan Canady

June 10, 2019

Those of us who knew Judy in cardiac rehab were sorry to learn of Judy's passing. Judy was an inspiration to all of us. As Judy walked her paces with her cane and struggled to get on and off the exercise machines, she managed to always do it with a smile to all and with grace. It was said so many times among those who exercised with her, "If Judy can do it, we ought to be able to do it!" Judy was a motivator for us all! We extend our prayers and best wishes to all the family. Tom Canady