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Memorial for longtime Rundlett Middle School teacher Judy French to be Sunday

John French remembers his late wife, Judy, a longtime Rundlett Middle School teacher, as someone who never stopped learning and who was always willing to help someone else.

On Sunday, her friends, former students and community members will have a chance to celebrate Judy’s life at a memorial event from noon to 6 p.m. at the Grappone Conference Center. She died in December. The event Sunday will include a brief service of prayer and remembrance, then turn to a celebration that will include food, stories, photos and New England barn dancing. John French said that while the celebration is focused on Judy, he sees it as a way to honor all teachers.

“It’s about her, but it’s also about what she did and the type of person she was. She was very inquisitive, she always wanted to explore something,” he said.

Judy taught sixth-grade math and science at Rundlett Middle School for 20 years. She was on a year of sick leave when she died. Before teaching at Rundlett, she worked at the former Horizon’s Edge School in Canterbury and in special education at the Spaulding Youth Center and Winnisquam and Concord high schools.

“Judy was somebody that absolutely had a great love of science and teaching that to kids,” said Rundlett Principal Tom Sica. “I just think of Judy as someone you would see that spark just ignite in her” when she was teaching kids about science.

Judy’s desire to learn new things never waned, and she helped many students and friends find their ways. Just this week John said he talked to a young mechanic who told him if it wasn’t for Judy he wouldn’t have his life on track. As his teacher, she encouraged him to straighten out, and he went on to technical school and became a certified mechanic. He plans on being at the event with his two children to honor Judy.

John and Judy were married for 27 years, but he said that since her death he’s realized even more how many lives she touched.

“She changed quite a few lives and tried to move them in the right direction,” he said.

Julie Harrington, a sixth-grade teacher who taught on the same team as Judy, got a group of now-seventh-grade students together to decorate a banner in honor of Judy, Sica said. They presented it to John, who will put it on display at Sunday’s event.

John said he was originally expecting about 140-160 people, but the pending winter storm could change that. Anyone is welcome to attend.

(Kathleen Ronayne can be reached at 369-3309 or or on Twitter @kronayne.)

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