By Esse Harold Keyes Special to the Star
Often times when I think back over the many years in which I have participated in running, jogging and biking events, I recall the privilege and honor of meeting and getting to know some truly outstanding individuals. One person that "stands out" is the late Dr. Judy Crowson. I cherish the memories of the many races, of varying distances, in which we competed.
Judy was almost everyone's favorite person to know. Her radiant smile, engaging personality and competitive spirit brightened many of our days. She always gave such events her best, and even during her last days of terminal illness she continued to demonstrate courage and resilience. Despite the illness she never gave up nor failed to fight it with all the energy and determination she could muster. She was an inspiration to all who knew her.
While a student at Ole Miss she was selected Miss Ole Miss. Years later her beautiful daughter Ann also would win that crown.
Judy and the late, legendary G.V. "Sonny" Montgomery became close companions and traveled together all across the country and throughout the world. Judy brought joy to Sonny's life, and she stood by him to the very end. That relationship enabled Judy to become acquainted with individuals at the highest levels of government, including presidents, congressional officials, world leaders and others of eminence.
Judy demonstrated the courage and determination of a mountain climber; for no challenge as a runner, swimmer, or biker could faze her. She ran in hundreds of races of varying distances all over the world. In fact, she ran a marathon on every continent, including Antarctica. She had a daring and adventurous spirit about her that distinguished her greatly from the ordinary. She even climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro in Africa on one of her many journeys to that continent and its many countries.
During one of the bike races sponsored by the Meridian Athletic Association, Judy had a terrible bicycle accident that had serious physical consequences. She was really "banged up" and had a long period of recovery. Nevertheless, one year later she was back on a new bike participating in the same event of thirty or more miles.
Judy was a great asset to the City of Meridian, a proud representative of the city and area and a loyal, charming daughter of the South. This Smith County native displayed that good old Southern grace and charm to everyone she met throughout the world.
Judy was a fellow member of mine in the Meridian Athletic Association. She often assisted me in planning and conducting the Queen City's running, swimming and biking events. Under the steady guidance of Terry and Karla Wiese, I was director through the years of many races in the Meridian area. I could always depend on Judy Crowson, not only for her assistance but also her participation in each event. When the runners hit the road, however, Judy was determined to be in the crowd.
One event that I recall so vividly was when she and I were running in the annual Anderson Cup 5K Run that traversed downtown Meridian. I caught up with her at about the half-way point of the 3.1-mile distance and said to her, "Do you mind if a senior citizen passes you?" Her response was, "Do I have any choice?" "Nope, sorry!" I said, "See you at the finish line."
I was in my mid-70s at the time and was just joking with her. Like me, Judy didn't care as much about winning as she did just the fun of being in the race and staying physically fit.
Judy has left a legacy of courage and "true grit" for which her family and all who knew her can justly be proud! How fortunate I was to know her and to compete in running and biking events with that gracious lady! Judy Crowson completed her last race several months ago, and she did it very much as she lived her life: Bravely and unafraid!