“If you stay active, your brain stays busy so it’s not shutting down. If your brain shuts down, everything shuts down.”  At 88, Judy Westbrook is still leading an exceptionally active life. Judy rarely stays still, and you can find her any day hiking on one of the many “beautiful and peaceful” local greenways or volunteering around town. 

Judy was raised in Detroit, Michigan in the middle of a family of five children. She started her first job at the young age of 10 at an A&W Root Beer stand. She washed dishes, served food, and made root beer floats. Judy graduated from Wayne University with a degree in Education at the age of 20. She began her career teaching first grade in California and moved to Florida two years later.  A friend introduced her to Byron Westbrook who became her husband and she became stepmom to his two sons. They settled in Clewiston, Florida where she had a long teaching career.

In 2003, Judy, now retired and widowed, decided to start a new life in a different town. She took a road trip through Florida and during a stop in Tallahassee, a young man ran up to her and gave her a bear hug saying “Westbrook, you’re here.” He was one of her former students studying at FAMU. He graciously showed her around town, and Judy was convinced that she had found her new home. 

Adventurous Judy is a world traveler. She has been to every continent including Antarctica. Her last trip was a 2016 hiking tour of Northern France where she visited many WW II sites. Some of her other favorite places include Thailand, Norway, New Zealand, Nova Scotia, and above the Arctic Circle where the glacial ice is pink. 

This busy lady has volunteered for many local agencies such as Word of the South, Opening Nights, Goodwood, Millstone, Village Square, Chain of Parks, and Sleep in Heavenly Peace. She especially enjoys putting meals together for Second Harvest and helping at the W.T. Moore Elementary School food pantry. She engages her brain and body by participating in the Tallahassee Senior Center’s Lifelong Learning and Outdoor Pursuits programs. 

Judy considers her greatest accomplishment as being a healthy 88-year-old who takes only one prescription medication. Her advice to other seniors is to “get outside and keep moving, keep your brain active, and ignore fake news.” 

By: Maureen Haberfeld