Oct. 12—SALEM, N.H. — Many people believe Judy Day was perfectly suited for her job at Salem Community Television, where for 20 years she volunteered overtime to make sure stories were told well.
Even in the wake of a personal tragedy this July — losing her husband of 39 years, Shawn, to cancer — she returned to work soon after, manning the town's camera equipment.
She was seen on the job as recently as last month, just weeks before her unexpected death on Oct. 4.
"She kept working. It was important to her to be part of the community," said Salem TV co-worker and friend Susan Mcloughlin. "She loved Salem that much."
The two first met in the early 2000s while attending St. Joseph Church, Mcloughlin recalls. A bulletin seeking volunteers to videotape Mass drew their attention.
Together, they went on to take jobs with the town. Assignments brought them 100 feet up on a fire engine lift, late into election nights, and Day's favorite, to the annual Ganley Award luncheon.
"Every St. Patrick's Day," Mcloughlin said, of when the event happens. "She loved the bagpipes and the drums. She'd position herself with the camera so they'd have to split themselves around her during the entrance. She loved that shot."
Day's obituary lays out the timeline of her life — born in Haverhill and educated in Lawrence before calling Salem home for four decades.
Back in May, she celebrated her 75th birthday.
Her niece, Donna Arenella, recently returned home to Florida after handling final arrangements locally. It was a brief illness that took her aunt, she said.
"I've heard that beautiful words have been shared about her at meetings in town. And on Facebook there's even more," Arenella said. "Her friends, a lot of them that she had for 55+ years, are devastated and shocked. All of us are."
Aranella's trips to New Hampshire always included a stop at Town Hall, where her aunt would proudly show off her workspace. Her car sported the license plate "TV-23," a nod to the town's government channel.
"She was definitely a lot of fun," her niece remembers. "She just spoiled us nieces and nephews. She and Uncle Shawn never had kids of their own."
Day's obituary mentions two beloved dogs named Peanut and Candy. She also loved the ocean, races, playing bingo, cards, newspapers, crossword puzzles, Hershey's chocolate with almonds and journalist David Muir. She wouldn't talk while he was on TV, according to her niece.
When it came to her own work out in the community, Day acted with compassion and care.
"Judy knew that many of the board members couldn't eat dinner before the meetings so she would find out their favorite snacks and customize each snack food per board," Mcloughlin said.
Her sister-in-law Lynne Day said she and her husband are now without their closest friends after losing Judy and Shawn within months.
"We were always together, like four peas in a pod," she said. "We played cards together, went to the races together, spent holidays together, the four of us were at every cookout."
Mcloughlin describes a similar feeling of loss.
"All of a sudden she's not there next to me," she said. "That's the biggest part of what I miss — her friendship."
At Day's request, there were no calling hours or public funeral service. In lieu of flowers, her family is requesting donations be made in Day's name to the Salem Animal Rescue League or the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Salem.