Judy Sanders, TV reporter with Berkshire roots, remembered as 'woman on the go'
LENOX -- Judy Sanders, an award-winning television news reporter and photographer who died of cancer on June 19, left behind images of "a woman on the go" who lived to the fullest to the end of her life.
"Judy always had a tremendous amount of energy," said her sister, Vicki Sanders. "She was just a very energetic, outgoing woman, and it was the same with cancer. She would not let it slow her down."
Judy Sanders, who was 63, spent much of her youth in the Berkshires before becoming a reporter for Albany, N.Y., area television stations, at first as a freelancer covering events and issues in the Pittsfield area.
She had a long career with WRGB Channel 6 before leaving in 2006 to become the official photographer to former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer, and later served in that role for governors David Paterson and Andrew Cuomo.
Judy was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2009 but continued working and living an adventurous life -- going on a safari in Africa and sailing, according to friends and colleagues.
After living for a time in Tyringham in the early 1960s, and later in Lenox with her mother and siblings, Judy considered the Berkshires her home, Vicki said.
"This is home for us, where we spent the most time and where we feel we really grew up," Vicki said.
Judy graduated from Skidmore College and initially worked in graphic design in the Pittsfield area during the 1970s, her sister said, before becoming a freelance reporter for Albany stations. Eventually, she moved to the Albany area but spent her last days in Lenox under hospice care.
Even while working in the Capital District and living in Albany, Sanders continued to attend "lots of cultural events in the Berkshires," Vicki said. "It was a big part of her life."
Jim and Gerry Hurley of Housatonic met the sisters shortly after moving to the Berkshires about 40 years ago and they've remained friends over the years. They were among the friends who visited Judy for dinners in recent months as her health deteriorated.
Judy died in Lenox, wanting to be near relatives and friends.
"They became like family to us," Gerry Hurley said of her early years in the Berkshires. "It breaks my heart that she was sick for so long."
But she "always had so much energy, even to the end of her life, when she became completely my hero," Hurley said.
"She came to our place or we went to see her every Sunday from April on," Gerry said, adding, "She did not let go easily, but when it did come she was not afraid."
"I found her fascinating," Gerry said. "And she had charm and grace -- she was a pretty good package. She was loyal, a very good friend."
"She was always so artistic" and never lost interest in learning or new experiences, Jim Hurley said.
He remembered Sanders, during a recent Sunday dinner, questioning novelist William Kennedy, a friend, about his work and also becoming interested in a new art form.
"We knew her when she was a fledgling reporter," Jim said. "She was an artist, she loved photography. She was a woman on the go. She left an indelible presence."
He said Sanders' mind remained strong while her body lost its battle with cancer.
"I remember thinking she was still the most alert among us," he said. "She had a passion for life."
Sanders "was always looking forward," he added, "even when she weighed 80 pounds."
Toward the end of her life, Judy "lived to the actual maximum of her physical being," Jim said. "She didn't surrender to it, but she understood. She was a pretty impressive woman."
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