Obituary: Judith A. Blank, 1945-2022 | Obituaries | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Obituary: Judith A. Blank, 1945-2022 

Beloved mother, friend and social justice activist lived an outsize life

click to enlarge Judith A. Blank - COURTESY
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  • Judith A. Blank
Judith A. Blank, a beloved mother, social justice activist, daughter, sister and very best friend, died on January 14, 2022, in the exceptional care of medical staff at Central Vermont Medical Center in Berlin, Vt. Standing at 4 foot 11, Judith lived an outsize life. A real-life Forrest Gump, Judith was full of powerful memories: meeting Martin Luther King Jr. at her synagogue as a kid, attending the March on Washington, hitchhiking across Europe and partying her way through Woodstock. Her long-winded stories were matched by a quick wit; sharp attention to detail; and giant amount of love for her family, friends and humanity.

Judith was born in Sheepshead Bay, N.Y., on March 15, 1945 — the Ides of March — to her adored parents, Rose and Ezra Blank. When she was 5, her family moved to Great Neck, N.Y., where she spent her childhood surrounded by the warmth of family and friends, learning the importance of empathy at an early age.

After graduating from Great Neck North, she studied sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. A devoted social justice activist, Judith participated in peaceful protests against the Vietnam War and for civil rights. Most recently, she joined nightly candlelight vigils for George Floyd on the Montpelier Statehouse lawn.

During her twenties in Manhattan, Judith began her career working as a welfare officer, later becoming the most unexpected investigator for the probation court. She led presentence investigations for the City of New York and, in her spare time, sought out adventure: hosting parties, attending shows, eating her way through different neighborhoods, traveling cross-country in her baby blue Volkswagen Beetle and plotting out every trip she took to include a stop at the closest casino to play the slots.

After vacationing in southern Vermont, Judith fell in love with the Green Mountains, eventually moving to Montpelier in the '70s, where she remained for the rest of her life. Working for the Department for Children and Families, Judith dedicated her life’s work as an adoption and post-adoption social worker across Vermont, always advocating for the best interests of her clients. She was known for her infectious energy and New York City grit by her colleagues. Outside of work, she volunteered for Circus Smirkus and the Democratic Party, and she served on the boards of the Onion River Arts Council and Camp for Me, a summer camp for adoptees.

At the age of 40, Judith adopted her daughter, Sajana Blank. Sajana arrived from Calcutta, India, on March 19, 1986, and was, as a cousin recently shared, the sun in the constellation of Judith's life. As a single mom, Judith worked long hours but always prioritized Sajana, making sure she had everything (and more) to nurture her interests and realize her dreams.

Following her retirement from the State of Vermont, Judith became an active member of the Montpelier Senior Center, where she could be found in an exercise class or playing mah-jongg all afternoon. Until the end of her life, she read a print copy of the daily New York Times and never left the crossword unfinished. Judith was also a pied piper to many young people, who knew her as “Bubbe” and “Aunt Judith.” She adored them as they adored her, and her presence will be sorely missed in their lives.

Judith loved bringing together her community, and she visited Sajana in Brooklyn every year prior to the pandemic to celebrate her birthday over dim sum, gathering family and friends from different parts of her life. In her final months, Judith and Sajana were lucky to spend six weeks together in November while she was recovering from surgery. They celebrated Sajana’s birthday and Thanksgiving, and watched "Jeopardy!" every night. The last 10 days of 2021 were the most special, allowing them to grow closer as a family, including Sajana’s partner, Keith.

Judith’s health rapidly declined in the last two weeks of her life; however, Sajana was able to talk with her nearly every day, reminding Judith how much love surrounded her. She died peacefully, holding hands with her nurse.

Judith is survived by her daughter, Sajana Blank, and her partner, Keith Rose, of Queens, N.Y.; many cousins; and loving friends. She is preceded in death by her parents, Rose and Ezra Blank; several beloved aunts and uncles; her sister-in-law, Christine Blank; her two four-legged babies, Maggie and Sophie; and four of her dear friends, Keith Aten, Ronnie Cohen, Carol Moore and Jim Suskin.

In honor of Judith’s life, a memorial service will be held in the spring or summer of 2022. Details will be shared nearer to the date. In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation in Judith’s memory to Vermont Foster/Adoptive Family Association to honor her life’s work or to Palliative Care at the Central Vermont Medical Center. Online condolences may be left at guareandsons.com.
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