Judith Sayler Olmer
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Judy Olmer, writer, reader, traveler, great wit, dedicated Democrat, environmentalist, intelligence analyst, lover of sweets, cats, and all things Australia, proud grandma, generous and caring friend, and the smartest person most of us have known, passed away on August 10, 2021, in Ellington, CT, following a year of declining health.
Judith Lila Sayler was born at home in Streeter, North Dakota on February 20, 1939. She was the first child of Arthur and Cordelia Sayler. The family moved to Portland, Oregon in 1946, where her father Art and Uncle Richard opened the now-iconic Sayler's Old Country Kitchen. Judy worked as a hostess and 'salad girl' at the OCK when she was a teen and lived a genuine 1950's lifestyle with her many friends. She enjoyed being big sister to her brothers Gene and Gerry. Judy graduated from Franklin High in 1956.
Judy went east to Mt. Holyoke College in Hadley, Massachusetts, where she graduated with a BA in Political Science. Her MHC Class of 1960 friendships endure today. In 1959, Judy was a summer intern for Sen Richard Neuberger (D-OR), and a steadfast Democrat was born. She subsequently worked for Sen Maureen Neuberger (D-OR), on the senator's campaign staff and later as a research assistant.
The Washington, DC area became Judy's home for most of the next 60 years. She attended The American University, completing her MA in International Relations and Organization in 1965. She married Lionel Olmer in 1962. The family, soon including son, Archer and daughter, Sally, followed Lionel's naval career to Portsmouth, VA, Wahiawa, HI, and Subic Bay, Philippines, before returning to DC.
Judy started working for the Business and Professional Women's Foundation in 1969 as Director of Research and Education. She administered scholarship and fellowship programs for women and managed research grants for work on the problems of employed women.
In 1974, at the age of 35, Judy joined the Central Intelligence Agency as a military and political intelligence analyst. Though this was a demanding career for a wife and mother of school-aged children, and a male-dominated field, Judy truly found her niche. For the next 24 years, she was an analyst and manager, covering issues ranging from Soviet naval operations to the disintegration of Yugoslavia. She was admired by her colleagues and served as a mentor and inspiration to the next generation of women coming into the Agency. She attended the National War College in 1986-87.
Judy spent three years in Canberra, Australia, and fell head over heels in love with everything about the country. Just recently, Judy was extremely proud of contributing to Bush Heritage Australia's efforts to extend the Tarcutta Hills Reserve in NSW.
Judy took full advantage of her retirement in 1998, traveling extensively, taking trips to visit family and friends, attending events with her huge circle of DC-area friends, and enjoying her home in Cabin John. She valued time with her grandchildren. She was an active member of the Women's National Democratic Club, serving as president of the Educational Foundation. She chaired the Sierra Club's Marine Mammal Subcommittee and represented the Club as an NGO observer to the International Whaling Commission. Judy also acted as Class Scribe for her MHC Class of 1960.
Judy's health began to decline in 2020, and in September, she moved in with Archer and Susan in Coventry, CT. After an initial improvement, thanks to the care and comfort of family, her health once again began to deteriorate. In February 2021, Judy moved into The Ivy at Ellington. We are deeply grateful to the staff at The Ivy, the aides who provided her daily care, and the Masonicare hospice team.
Judy is survived by son Archer (Susan Frampton), daughter Sally (Mike Andrade), grandchildren Alex, Caroline, and Nate, brother Gerry, sister-in-law Mary, former daughter-in-law Pan, and many loving family members and friends. She was preceded in death by her parents and her brother Gene.
If you wish to make a charitable donation in Judy's honor, we suggest the WNDC Educational Foundation or The Audubon Naturalist Society, or your own favorite charity.
Please contact [email protected] for information on a DC-area Celebration of Life.