Julia Claire Smith Gullage, Judy as she was affectionately known, went to be with her Lord and Savior on April 28, 2019, at Bethany House in Auburn, Alabama. She was 77 years old. Throughout her entire life, her focus was always on God, her family, and the well-being of others. Judy had a true servant’s heart.
Judy was born in Camphill, Alabama on October 28, 1941 to Homer and Trudy Smith. She was the oldest of 8 children, and the only girl.
Judy went to Camphill High School. She was selected for the honor of attending Girl’s State, and was the valedictorian of her senior class. After graduation in 1959, Judy moved to Birmingham where she attended Alverson Draughon Business College.
Judy married the love of her life, Jim Gullage, in May 1960 and the two spent a summer living in Tuscaloosa while Jim finished law school. The newlyweds then travelled the world courtesy of Jim’s active duty service in the U.S. Army JAG Corps. They lived in Charlottesville, Virginia and Monterey, California, where Judy studied at Monterey Community College. She worked as an assistant to a colonel on the military base. They were then stationed in West Berlin, Germany. Their daughters Lisa and Lauri were born while they were in Germany.
The Gullage family moved to Opelika in 1968 when Jim joined the law practice of Walker, Hill. Jim and Judy became members of First Baptist Church where they remained active until their deaths. Judy taught 10th grade girl’s Sunday school class, and she helped teach a young married couples Sunday school class. She and Jim joined a supper club started by some church members, and they remained active in that same supper club for the rest of their lives. Judy served on numerous church committees through the years. She was also active in many civic organizations including garden club, study club, the arts council, and she was a girl scout leader. Her years in Opelika were some of the best years of her life. She developed deep and abiding friendships that sustained her in good times and bad for more than 50 years.
In the 70’s, Judy studied education at Auburn University. She wanted to be an elementary school counselor. She didn’t finish because God had other plans. She and Jim were blessed with their son Jason. College never stood a chance against that little roly poly baby. Four years later God blessed them again with Jared.
Judy relished her role as a wife and mother. Her home was always the house where the kids hung out. Anyone who came felt her warmth and love because they were treated like her own children.
She was an amazing listener. She treated every conversation as important. You felt like you were the only person in the room, and she had a gift for remembering what you told her and following up on it.
Judy had a wonderful sense of humor. She laughed at Jim’s good jokes, and his many bad ones. If she thought something was really funny, you knew it because you would hear a loud, boisterous laugh and she would clap her hands together.
She was exceptionally thoughtful and generous, and she never forgot a birthday or special event. Judy was the consummate hostess. If you came to her house, you never left hungry or empty-handed. She always sent her children off with a little snack bag of food “for the road.”
Judy was a talented artist who could paint or create anything. She sewed countless costumes for school plays and church productions. She could refinish furniture like a professional. Many pieces of dull, lifeless furniture were restored to their former glory in her basement.
She had a gift for organization. If you needed help organizing a room, she could find the best way to place the furniture, and she would plan it out down to the inch on graph paper.
Judy could repair anything and had all the tools to do it. If you wanted to remain in her good graces, you had better return her tools to the right spot and in good condition. If Judy didn’t have the right tool, she would improvise. She even had a repair kit for fixing toys. Many wounded GI Joes were treated in her toy hospital.
Judy loved the outdoors and nature. Nothing made her happier than working in her yard and tending her flowers. She delighted in watching the hummingbirds dive bomb each other around the feeders and the blue-tailed skinks scamper across her rock wall. She fed the birds, and made sure the Canada Geese and their goslings got a share. She enjoyed animals and allowed her children to have a zoo of pets: chipmunks, birds, a goat, opossums, raccoons, tarantulas, hermit crabs, horses, and numerous cats and dogs. Her only rule--and she was firm on this one--was that the animals must be well cared for and never mistreated.
She loved sports. All sports. When Joe Torre was coaching the Atlanta Braves in the 80s, she secretly served as his assistant manager. She just worked from home and didn’t get paid.
Judy could have run a nation, but she glady chose instead to run the Gullage gang and we will be forever grateful. She will be missed deeply everyday, but we know that we are better people because of her.
Judy was preceded in death by her husband, James Truett Gullage, her son, Jason David Gullage, her granddaughter Lily Marie Gullage, her parents, Robert Homer Smith and Gertrude Finch Smith, her brothers, Bob, Bill, Danny, Kenny, and Chris Smith.
She is survived by her children, Lisa Gullage Gunter (Jeff), Lauri Gullage Tickal (Jeff), and Jared Gullage (Lacy), and her grandchildren, Mauri Tickal Crisler (Bradley), Jacob Tickal, Adam Tickal, Clayton Gunter, Cole Gunter, Julianna Gullage, and Naomi Gullage. She is also survived by her brothers Steve Smith (Debbie) and Richard Smith (Cindy).
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to:
First Baptist Church Opelika, 301 South 8th Street, Opelika, 36801; or Samaritan’s Purse, Att: Donor Ministries, P.O. Box 3000, Boone, NC 28607
Funeral services are 3:30pm, Thursday, May 2, 2019 at First Baptist Church, Opelika with burial following at Garden Hills Cemetery. Visitation was Wednesday, May 1, 2019 from 5:00pm until 7:00pm.
Jeffcoat-Trant Funeral Home and Crematory directing.
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