Judith Elster Wexler: October 28, 1921 – January 10, 2020
A native Californian and a Palisadian since 1964, Judith Wexler who led a life well lived passed away peacefully at 98 years of age. Born in Calipatria, California where she grew up on the family farm, Judy was Salutatorian at Calipatria High School and then attended UCLA. At UCLA, she earned her Bachelor’s degree in Botany and Taxonomy Human Physiology and an MAEd in Child Growth and Development. A fun fact, the famed baseball player Jackie Robinson attended UCLA at the same time as Judy, where they had classes together. After college, as a gift from her father, she took a 70 day, 10 country tour on the Queen Mary and returning on the Queen Elizabeth ocean liners; this trip sparked her lifelong love of travel.
After briefly working in a chemistry lab, Judy taught at Pasteur Junior High School where she taught life and physical sciences. Judy married Saul Wexler late in life and had one child Paul. In 1964, Judy began teaching at the newly established Palisades High School where she taught Biology and Human Physiology. In 1978 tragedy struck, and the family lost their home to the Mandeville Canyon fire. Only weeks later, her husband Saul lost his life to cancer. After 38 years of teaching, and recent life events, she decided to retire and focus on her passion for travel. Judy traveled all over the US and all over the world to places such as Kenya, Egypt, Israel, China, Panama, Brazil, Russia and throughout Europe.
Judy felt her biggest accomplishment was teaching science to (collectively thousands of) her students. Teaching was very important to her; as she enjoyed her students and challenged them to work hard.
An active community member, Judy participated in many civic activities. She was active in the City of Hope and the Getty Villa as a docent. Judy was involved with the local National Council of Jewish Women and served as their Co-President. In later life, she volunteered with Koreh LA. She attended weekly services at Kehillat Israel and had served on their board A lover of the arts, Judy had season tickets to the LA Opera and the LA Philharmonic, and there wasn’t a museum that she hadn’t visited in California or any major US city. Judy believed strongly in education, justice and equal rights for all as well as protecting the earth. She supported dozens of nonprofit organizations and was generous with her time and resources to her family and friends.
Judy is survived by her son Paul Wexler, daughter-in-law Millie Wexler and her beloved grandchildren Ariel and Seth Wexler. Judy is also survived by her brother, Leon Elster. Judy was close to her all her nieces and nephews. She was proud of her stepchildren, Janis Bolusky z”l and Ron Wexler, and their children Richard Bolusky, Jennifer Joels (Tulsa, Oklahoma), Matthew and Emily Wexler (Providence, Rhode Island).
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in her memory to NCJW, Kehillat Israel, City of Hope, the Nature Conservancy, or Temescal Canyon Association.