Home > Ephemeris Program, Memories > 09/16/2014 – Ephemeris – My wife Judy passed away last Saturday

09/16/2014 – Ephemeris – My wife Judy passed away last Saturday

September 16, 2014

Note:  This is the transcript of the program that went out over the air:

This is Bob Moler with Ephemeris for Tuesday, September 16th.  The sun will rise at 7:22.  It’ll be up for 12 hours and 28 minutes, setting at 7:51.   The moon, 1 day past last quarter, will rise at 1:12 tomorrow morning.

The love of my life, Judy passed away last Saturday after 48 years of marriage.  When I met her, arranged, by my sister, who herself succumbed to cancer last month, she didn’t know much about astronomy, about the same as is seen from our schools today.  I was working at the planetarium in Grand Rapids at the time and we went in after hours and viewed the sky.  Using flash cards I made up, she learned the constellations.  After we were married and I came back from the Air Force, she got a job as the planetarium director’s secretary and sales clerk.  She took the college Astronomy 101 course, and even produced a planetarium show for young kids using kids drawings projected on the dome for illustration.

Times are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan.  They may be different for your location.


This the extended version, some of what what I really wanted to say:

Judith Ann Moler 1943-2014

The love of my life, Judy passed away last Saturday, September 13, 2014 at the age of 71, after we’d been married 48 years.  I met her, arranged, by my sister Shirley, who herself succumbed to cancer last month.  It was kind of a mercy dinner to take this guy (me) out before he entered Air Force for basic training.  Shirley said I pretty much ignored her on previous occasions, but this time I was smitten.  I’m a pretty much buttoned down guy with the ladies, but it was maybe because I was going to change my life by entering the Air Force that opened me up.
After a few dates I told her I had this, um, problem.  I liked to go out on dark nights and observe the heavenly bodies.  She could join me or stay inside where it’s warm.  She gamely joined me.  I suspect it was to make sure these heavenly bodies were celestial and not terrestrial.  (Just kidding).  Judy didn’t know much about astronomy when we met, about the same as we see from our schools today.  I was working at the Planetarium of the Grand Rapids Public Museum at the time and we went in after hours and viewed the sky.  Judy got to make up her own constellations.  Later, using flash cards I made up, she learned many of the brighter real constellations.

After we were married and I got out of the Air Force we came back to Grand Rapids I got a job with NCR and Judy got a job as the planetarium director’s secretary and sales clerk.  By then the planetarium had a name, the Roger B. Chaffee Planetarium, named for the Grand Rapids astronaut who died in the Apollo 1 fire in 1967.  Judy took the college Astronomy 101 course, and even produced a planetarium show for young kids using kids drawings projected on the dome for illustration.

She joined with us in trips to view the total solar eclipses of 1970 and 1972, but gave up her seat on the small plane we chartered in 1979 to view the total solar eclipse in February that year, being not too keen on flying, especially in small planes.  She even found a pilot we nicknamed, “Crash” LaMar, to fly the 5 of us brave souls to North Dakota to view this eclipse.  He could fly just fine, but had a problem keeping the wing tips from hitting the high snow banks when taxiing at the Bottineau, ND airport. I recall that once we had to get out and push, or was that my imagination?

We moved to the Traverse City area in 1971 to follow my job at the time working for NCR.
Around 1980 I was approached by the head of the Science and Math department Joe Rogers, at Northwestern Michigan College (NMC) to teach their 100 level astronomy course.  By then I had programs on the public radio station WIAA for 5 years, so my name was out there as an astronomical expert.  The problem was that I had never had any formal astronomical training*, despite that they hired me.  My other problem was that I frequently had to work out of town, so Judy stepped in to substitute teach on those nights I was out of town.  Actually she had more “formal” astronomy training than I did.

Judy was an instrumental part of the founding and operation of the Grand Traverse Astronomical Society (GTAS), started in 1982 and many years thereafter.  She held down the fort at the NMC Observatory with other members of the GTAS on the night in May 1983 when Comet IRAS-Araki-Alcock buzzed 3 million miles from the Earth and the public wanted to see it because Paul Harvey featured it on his newscast, when I abandoned them and snuck out to the less known Leelanau School’s Lanphier Observatory in Glen Arbor to photograph the comet in peace.  I know, it wasn’t nice of me.

In 1986 our family flew down to Miami and drove down to Key Largo to join the teacher and students from the Leelanau School to observe Halley’s Comet at its closest to the Earth, which was too far south to see from Traverse City.  I had the brilliant or cockamamie idea of splitting our 24 hour days into two 12 hour days.  A daytime day to explore and enjoy the Keys and a night time day to observe the comet.  Judy gamely went along with it: 8 hours up and 4 hours of sleep then repeat.  I found that it worked for me, at least for the 6 days we tried it.  Judy, at least, didn’t complain, but our daughter couldn’t handle it.  She went on our day trips, but stayed at our resort sleeping all night.  Beside viewing and photographing Halley’s Comet, which lost its tail that week (bummer), we visited Theater of the Sea, Key West and toured the coral reefs in a glass bottomed boat, and the Everglades.

We had many more adventures, but these have come to mind now.

* I’m not self taught.  My astronomy education comes via the members of the Grand Rapids Junior Astronomy Club and my close association with John Wesley, a true genius, and Donn Cuson, and members of the Grand Rapids Amateur Astronomical Association, and one of its founding members the late Evelyn Grebel, who let me tinker with the planetarium in its early days, and countless others including my still good friends Jim and Evie Marron at whose home Judy and I watched Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin of Apollo 11 work on the Moon’s surface, and my friend and sometimes antagonist Dave DeBruyn, now Emeritus Director of the Chaffee Planetarium.

I’ll have more of these remembrances in the days to follow, maybe with better sentence structure,  but they will not be filed under Ephemeris.  Look for the category Memories and the tag Judy.  It’s my way of coping and healing.

Obituary for Judith A. Moler

Judith (DelRaso) Moler, 71, of Traverse City passed away on Saturday, September 13, 2014 at Munson Medical Center. Judy was born on April 20, 1943 in Grand Rapids to Adolph and Edith (Antonini) DelRaso. She was married to Robert C. Moler on April 16, 1966 in Grand Rapids. Judy and Bob moved to Traverse City in 1971. She was a member of St. Patrick Catholic Church and was named St. Patrick’s Women of the Year in 1991. She volunteered, helping people with Alzheimer’s and with the Crop Walk. Judy was a member of the Grand Traverse Astronomical Society. Judy was proud of her Italian heritage; she loved to cook Italian food and she perfected the family sauce with no sugar. Above all, Judy loved spending time with her family and friends. She will be missed by all who knew her.

Judy is survived by her husband of 48 years, Robert, daughter Stephany Farrell, mother Edith DelRaso, three grandchildren Christopher Farrell, Nicole Farrell and Bernadette Farrell, two brothers; Robert DelRaso and Carl DelRaso, and brother-in-law Donald (Terry) Moler. Also surviving are many nieces and nephews.

She was preceded in death by her father Adolph DelRaso, sisters-in-law Gladys DelRaso and Shirley (Moler) Burnham.

Friends are welcome to visit with Judy’s family on Wednesday, September 17, 2014 from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. at the Reynolds-Jonkhoff Funeral Home, 305 Sixth Street Traverse City, MI 49684.

Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Thursday, September 18, 2014 at St. Patrick Catholic Church, 630 SW Silver Lake Rd., Traverse City, MI 49685, with visiting one hour prior. Rev. Fr. Greg McCullum will officiate. Burial will follow in Linwood Cemetery.

Those planning an expression of sympathy may wish to consider memorial donations to The Alzheimer’s Association or the American Diabetes Association.

Please feel free to share your thoughts and memories with Judy’s family at www.reynolds-jonkhoff.com.

The family is being served by the Reynolds-Jonkhoff Funeral Home.

Categories: Ephemeris Program, Memories Tags:
  1. richard Kuschell
    September 16, 2014 at 11:23 am

    Our thoughts and prayers go out to you and your family.
    In Sympathy,
    Richard and Susan

    • September 16, 2014 at 1:35 pm

      Thanks for your kind words and prayers of consolation. We’re holding up, barely. Planning is just about done. Got an appointment with our priest later this afternoon on the liturgy, and that should do it until tomorrow late afternoon. Having Judy pass on Saturday, slowed things down by two days. Again the whole Moler/Farrell household thanks you.

  2. Roxana Muise
    September 16, 2014 at 12:40 pm

    Please accept my condolences on the passing of your wife, Judy.
    I lost my husband just 1 month before our 50th wedding anniversary. It is very difficult.

    • September 16, 2014 at 1:50 pm

      Thank you for your kind words. But missing your 50th wedding anniversary by a month was, I bet, especially heart breaking. I’ll more to say about Judy in a day or two about how she cared for my sister who just passed away last month. It won’t be an Ephemeris program, but a special post.

      Again thank you for your thoughts.


  3. Trixie Pickard
    September 18, 2014 at 2:03 pm

    Beautiful tribute, Bob! I enjoyed listening to you talk about astronomy. Judy would always come up and give me hugs and remind me that I would get whatever information you were giving pretty soon if I kept asking questions and my desire to learn. I was reminded today of all the things she did at St Patrick’s church that I had forgotten doing with her. I remember doing the Shamrock Festival many times, she was also one of the instructors for my confirmation class. I was actually blessed to have her around for church as well the observatory. I have and will always love her feisty spirit and her laugh. I am so sorry for her passing. Know you are in my prayers and that you are dearly loved.

    • September 18, 2014 at 10:08 pm

      Thanks Trixie. We love you.

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