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Judy Ritchie McNerney

Judy Ritchie McNerney passed away peacefully in bed at her home on December 19, 2020. She was surrounded by her family and friends, with the Motown music she loved playing in the background. Judy Kay was born on February 8, 1947 to Charles “Chuck” and Matilda “Tillie” Ritchie. She grew up in the Drake neighborhood of Des Moines, the middle of three sisters. Judy attended St. John’s Parochial school and graduated from St. Joseph’s Academy in 1965. She worked at many places; her favorite being a volunteer coordinator at Iowa Lutheran Hospital and at the Department of Human Services. She was a devoted mother, sister, aunt, and grandmother.


Judy will be remembered for her sense of humor, wisdom, and strength. She genuinely enjoyed talking to anyone she met, laughing, and being out in the world, taking long walks and shopping. It made her day to find a great sale. She absolutely loved music; she was an amazing dancer and a pitchy singer. Judy loved her landline phone, spending hours lovingly bickering with her sisters and chatting with her many wonderful friends, including Diane Goodwin, Esther Caldwell, and Beth Thayer. She was incredibly wise, intuitive, and had the best judgment, even at the very end. She loved to read and binge watch TV. She was an animal lover, owning several dogs, including her most recent pup, Stewart “Stewie” the cockapoo, whom she had for 16 years. Judy gave the best, honest to goodness advice when you really needed it and always had “tips”, some profound, some trivial, to share on every topic. One of her most important tips, that she instilled in all the young people in her life, was to always stand up for yourself.


Part of Judy’s story includes her long battle of with various cancers and medical conditions. If Judy was admitted to the hospital, you could always find an inspired resident student by her side taking notes, learning from Judy and her vast medical experience. She was incredibly brave, optimistic, and resilient in her fights throughout the years. She never complained about her circumstances and never took herself too seriously.


Judy is lovingly remembered by her dear sisters Linda Ritchie and Sherry Parker (Butch), as well as her half-sister Barbara Burton; her loving son Ryan and his sweet fiancé Hana; her cherished daughter Kate and her one and only grandchild Henry, who affectionately called her JuJu and was the light of her life; her beloved nieces Michelle Poortinga (Bill) and Jennifer Leto (John); her great nephews Aaron and Nick (Johanna) Mattison, and great niece Aly (Cody) Leto. Judy also leaves behind countless extended family members and life long friends. Judy is preceded in death by her parents and her half-brother Charles “Buddy” Ritchie.


Judy loved all kinds of greeting cards and you could always count on her to find the perfect card for birthdays and life events. In lieu of flowers or donations, the family asks that cards with memories of Judy are sent to her home in Urbandale. A celebration of life will be planned when large gatherings are safe. Bon voy, Judy.





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