Judy Dow Rumelhart

Today we are honoring Judy Dow Rumelhart.  Judy was a former member of our club and has supported the club’s endowment.  Many of you know of Judy, but probably very few of you, know her background and her extensive commitment to our community.
 
Judy has had a most remarkable life that has taken her around the country performing and producing.  She is a singer and entertainer who has wowed New York audiences.  She has cut several albums, produced a Tony Award winning Broadway musical and sung the National Anthem at Giants Stadium.  During the 1970’s she was a frequent and popular performer at prominent New York supper clubs.  In the late 70’s, she co-produced the Broadway musical, Sweeney Todd, winning in the process a Tony award, worked with such stage figures as composer Stephen Sondheim and actress Angela Landsbury.  Later, she toured the country, singing with local orchestras and appearing on talk shows.
 
In the 1980’s, Judy decided to leave the spotlight and return to Ann Arbor where she lives with her husband, Don Rumelhart.   Judy grew up in Ann Arbor, the daughter Dr. Harry and Margaret Towsley, two beloved and well-known benefactors in Ann Arbor.  And so, Judy devoted the next two decades to helping and giving back to her hometown.  It was after a life-changing tour of the men’s homeless shelter in the late 1990’s that she became involved in the Capital Fund drive for Shelter Association for Washtenaw County resulting in the building of the Delonis Center.  It was in that endeavor that she and my husband, Joe, were named the 2001 Citizens of the Year by the Ann Arbor News.
 
Then in 2001, U of M asked Judy to lead the fundraising efforts for the Hill Auditorium renovation and restoration which was completed in 2004. In addition she has served on the University of Michigan Mott Children’s Hospital board, U-M Athletic Development Board, U-M Theater Development Advisory committee, the Purple Rose Theater Board of Directors, Vice-President and Director of the Towsley Foundation, The Leelanau School Board of Directors, the Albion College Board of Trustees, the Michigan AIDS Fund Board of Trustees, the U-M President’s Advisory Board, the Ann Arbor Summer Festival Friends Committee, the capital campaign for St. Joseph Mercy Hospital Cancer Care Facility, and the Arbor Hospice Foundation.  Currently she serves on the Board of the Interlochen Center for the Arts with Ken Fischer, and last year the Mallory-Towsley Center for Arts Leadership was dedicated.
She is an Emeritus Chair of the Michigan Theater Board and worked on capital campaigns for the Power Center and the Michigan Theater, playing an instrumental role in saving the Theater from demolition.  Judy also pioneered the annual St. Joe’s Holiday Ball which over the past 36 years has raised over $15.6 million for St. Joe’s Hospital. 
Ken Fischer calls her “The Queen of the Arts” in Ann Arbor.   My husband, Joe, complements her on her teamwork, passion and ability to get things done for the most vulnerable in our community.  Larry Henkel says that Judy taught him “the niceties of syncopated jazz singing after turning sixty” and that he admires her for unfailing human decency and great compassion for those in need.”  Clearly Judy is passionate about Ann Arbor and most of our institutions have been touched by her love and leadership. 
As mentioned earlier, Judy is married to Don Rumelhart. She has two sons, two stepchildren, and 10 grandchildren.  One son, Charlie, and a granddaughter, Heather, along with Don are in attendance today. 
 

We are so grateful to have such a caring person in our community-- and Judy, will you please come forward so that we can present you with Distinguished Service Award, Rotary’s highest award. [Remarks by Beth Fitzsimmons, April 4, 2012]