Cover photo for Lucile Judith Purtell's Obituary
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1941 Judy 2022

Lucile Judith Purtell

August 20, 1941 — October 18, 2022

Age 81
Elm Grove, WI - The love and light in the world dimmed as Judy Rutte Purtell gently slipped away from us on October 18, 2022, in the presence of her family after a too short, but valiant battle with cancer.

Judy, as she was known, all her life, was born an “Army Brat” on August 20, 1941, in Evanston, Illinois, the seventh of eight children, and only single daughter, of Lucile Hammes and Colonel Louis Rutte. Judy had two sets of twin sisters — Mary Wallace and Elizabeth Moody, and Catherine Zolonowski and Helen Stefanov — and three brothers — Robert, James (Bernadette), and Richard (Deborah) Rutte. Judy was best friend and pillar of support to Dennis J. Purtell, and source of love and kindness to four marvelous children: Megan Purtell and Brian R. Purtell (Char Pedersen) of Madison, Cara Elliott of Elm Grove, and Sara (Sean) Scullen of Pewaukee. Her love spread even further to the eight Grand Ones; Matthew Pedersen, Mitchell, Anya and Owen Purtell of Madison, Pyper and Reed Scullen of Pewaukee, and Callum and Maeve Elliott of Elm Grove.

Judy was raised on the go, with several stops along the way, including Atlanta, Southern California, Tokyo, Green Bay and Delafield, WI, which was the life of military families. Her stop in Delafield led her to graduate as Valedictorian of the first graduating class of Catholic Memorial High School in Waukesha, where she also had the honor of being selected as Prom Queen. Moving on as usual, The College of St. Catherine in St. Paul gave her a degree in Occupational Therapy in 1963. On her first trip home as a freshman, she met Dennis Purtell on the train which ultimately led to their marriage in 1964, and fifty-eight years of being his Beloved. Raising four active children did not slow Judy down in professional or philanthropic endeavors. Judy worked for Milwaukee Hospice, one of the earliest home hospice undertakings in the community, as well as for the Milwaukee Mental Health Association. She was in the initial class of Future Milwaukee and also served on the United Way Board of Directors, where she chaired the Health Care Committee and received a Volunteer of the Year Award. Such was merely a start, however. Despite successfully overcoming breast cancer, it resulted in ongoing lymphedema. Judy used her OT training to learn that there was little therapy being provided to victims of lymphedema, so Judy undertook special training and with a partner, opened the initial clinic in the community for treating patients experiencing lymphedema. Those efforts led to her taking to the road with a four-day training program for healthcare providers in which she trained attendees about lymphedema treatments as well as the procedures required to obtain payment for such services. Over a ten-year period, Judy taught literally hundreds of therapists and others about the treatment procedures. In Judy’s retirement, she and Dennis travelled with close friends in Europe and Australia as well as here in the States. She cherished every minute spent with the grandkids, avoided Packer games, reveled in reading book upon book and sharing with two book clubs, floating down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon, preparing gala family gatherings with menu type options, arranging family reunions with her scattered siblings, and enjoying life. So, she is and will, be missed deeply. She faced her late-life second cancer combat as just another pathway in her life. She will be remembered constantly with smiles, laughter and, yes, tears.

In lieu of flowers, Judy would encourage donations to a local food bank, or programs for feeding, or healthcare services for others in need, paying it forward for others, sharing joy with others. In her honor, vote for candidates who demonstrate integrity, will uphold our democratic institutions, and protect women’s rights.

It is with regrets that we have had to cancel the planned Celebration of Judy on Friday, November 4, due to covid exposure of four immediate family members.  The family did not want to run the risk of even the possibility of additional exposure or infection.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Lucile Judith Purtell, please visit our flower store.


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