Life of beloved TUSD board member celebrated

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TUCSON, Ariz. -- She was one of the Tucson Unified School District's greatest champions, serving its teachers and children for more than two decades.

Less than one week after Judy Burns' sudden death, this community she so dearly loved celebrates her life.

It was a performance TUSD board member Judy Burns would have loved, Tucson elementary students singing about the diversity that unites us all.

"There could be no more fitting choice for a woman that dedicated her life to the education of generations of children in Tucson," said TUSD Teacher Curtis Acosta while addressing the gathering.

Family, friends and members of the TUSD community came together Thursday night at Tucson High School to honor Judy's dedication to the district.

"Her advocacy and the passion she brought to the work that she did is going to be something we're all going to miss," said TUSD Board Member Adelita Grijalva.

"We knew that if we ever had a question, if we ever had a problem, a great idea, that we could call Judy and we would get our phone call returned," said TUSD Teacher Rosalva Maza.

Elected to the TUSD school board in 2000, after years of volunteering within the district, colleagues say Judy never hesitated to speak her mind.

"While she didn't often start one, she never backed off from a fight and it's my experience that she didn't lose many of them either," said TUSD Superintendent Dr. John Pedicone.

When word of Judy's sudden death spread, a heart attack at age 63, there was a common reaction in classrooms.

"There was one word I kept hearing over and over again, Judy was our champion," Maza said.  "We lost our champion."

Thursday night many were feeling the loss of this champion of education.

"The loss is going to be significant because she was a really strong advocate for the students and for the employees in this community," Grijalva said.

Her determination and kindness, an example for the community to follow in years to come.

Judy Burns' would have been up for re-election next year.

Pima County school Superintendent Linda Arzoumanian plans to release a statement Friday regarding her vacancy.

She has three options to choose from; hold a special election for the vacancy, fill it by appointment or not fill it at all.