Judith “Judy” Cantor died on June 16 unexpectedly in Raleigh. She was 60. A life cut short as always by a directional sign that says, exit here. However, without having left her without a cause, Death was not able to keep her from leaving her mark on the landscape of life by being an active member of the Triangle LGBT community and its associated organizations.

You see, I had known Judy all my life. We grew up together in Johnson City, Tenn. Our families were intertwined through life at the synagogue, playtime, friendship and more. I always remember her with that big, bright, infectious smile. She was forever excited about life and what it had to offer. And, she embraced humor enthusiastically as well.

Her parents were poised, well-educated, articulate and demanding. All this set a stage for Judy’s thirst for life and learning. Forever the achiever, her grit and determination led her to excellence. This Volunteer State native mentor and friend lived by three “Ts” — teaching, tenaciousness and trustworthiness — always. She was someone you could count on in good times or bad. She was a rare composite of professional, strong, caring and kind qualities plus more.

She attended Science Hill High School her first year, but chose to finish her teen years at Interlochen Center for the Arts High School in Michigan.

Afterward, she spent a year abroad in Israel and then returned to attend the University of Tennessee and Syracuse University before earning her BA in Business from Baruch College in New York. She obtained her CPA and continued to work in accounting throughout her lifetime.

In N.Y., she was an active member of the National Organization for Women, Salute to Israel and other groups.

Judy decided to venture back south and founded The Computer Lab in Morrisville with her life partner, Kathe Rauche. The Lab afforded hundreds of students with the opportunity to earn computer job certifications.

Let no stone sit quietly. She returned to college to earn her Masters in Accounting at North Carolina State University (NCSU), then headed north to Baltimore, Md., for a year. The south called again. This time she returned to teach accounting at her alma mater. Just recently, she had secured a post at Peace College and was working on another Masters degree through the College of Engineering at NCSU.

Judy loved music. I can remember visiting her home when family members would take out some sort of instrument to play in the living room. Oh, those were great years. Her eyes would glow with a sparkle as the melodies rose. In recent years she played bass clarinet for the Durham Community Concert Band, as well as the North Carolina Pride Concert Band.

Again, stones needed moving and she was quick to do so as a member of Strong Women Organizing Outrageous Projects (SWOOP).

Back to her teaching roots, she tutored Adult Basic Education. Just another way Judy gave to the world so that others could achieve.

Most recently, she was on the steering committee to help start the Raleigh Business & Professional Network. Project SAFE training was among her credentials through the NCSU GLBT Center where she attended programs and events, as well as hung out to share stories with the students and others, said Director Justine Hollingshead.

Judy is preceded in death by her father, Bernard. Survivors are her mother, Evelyn of Raleigh; life partner, Kathe Rauche; sisters Susanna Cantor and husband Dave Caldwell of Raleigh and Abigail Cantor and husband Dr. Alan Kalker of Madison, Wisc.

Contributions may be made in Judy’s memory to Interlochen Center for the Arts, P.O. Box 199, Interlochen, MI 49643-0199, North Carolina Pride Marching Band, P.O. Box 72122, Durham NC 27722-2122 or the Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina, 3808 Tarheel Dr., Raleigh, NC 27609.

Lainey Millen

Lainey Millen was formerly QNotes' associate editor, special assignments writer, N.C. and U.S./World News Notes columnist and production director from 2001-2019 when she retired.