Judith Knowles, 83, began her journey home on August 7, 2019 of natural causes, with family by her side. Her grace, humor and dignity as her health failed during this last year are an inspiration to all who knew her. She is survived by her life partner, Marcia, by nieces Jody Branchcomb (David), Mara Granshaw, Gayle Hale (Will), Cheryl de Martine (Greg), Kevin Brown (Ken), Valarie Pratt (Don), Marie Wallace (Mike), nephew Tiny Claibourn, cousin Karen Mitchell (Tom), and many great and great-great nieces and nephews, and many close and dear friends. Judith was preceded in death by her parents, sister JoAnne, Dunstan, brother Kay (Peggy), nephew Marc and niece Tracey.
Born in Martinez, California, to Willard and Elsie Knowles, she spent her childhood there prior to University. She continued to support the Martinez community. Judith’s greatest joy was her life long love of music and the arts. Her talent, which began at age 2 years, was in her soul, as was her wonderful sense of humor and zest for life.
Judith was a renowned and well-loved Professor of Music. Her teaching experiences include Shasta High School, University of Minnesota, California State University at San Francisco, Shasta College and a Summer Arts program at CSU Chico.
Judith began her residency of Shasta County in 1960. During her thirty years at Shasta College, Judith served as Music Department Chairwoman, Music Director of the Summer Arts, and Director of the Fine Arts Division. During her brilliant career, Judith directed chorales, choirs, jazz ensembles, early music ensembles, operas, musicals and judged Metropolitan Opera Auditions. She was a Shasta College Teacher of the Year, and is listed in Who’s Who of Women Educators, and served as President of the Music Educators Association.
Students who were fortunate enough to be in a chorale, choir, or orchestra under Judith’s direction speak of her gift for creating music that moved both the performers and the audience. The great American contralto Marian Anderson attended Judith’s conducting of the CSU San Francisco Chamber Choir, and described Judith as “an amazing, sensitive, musical talent.”
Her passing is also a great loss to the Redding community. Judith gave tirelessly of herself in her volunteer work. She served as the President of the Redding Arts Council, Board member of the Shasta County Arts Council, and Music Director of the Machine Shop and Riverfront Theater. Judith brought well-known choirs to perform in Redding. Her choral clinics for individuals, high schools, and community colleges enriched the participants and the community.
A Celebration of Life will be held in the future after appropriate arrangements have been made. The family requests that donations and gifts in her name be made to the Riverfront Playhouse, PO Box 994666, Redding, CA 96099, or to the charity of your choice. Please make a notation that your gift is in honor of Judith Knowles.
Our loss is Heaven’s gain: Judith will forever be missed by family and friends. She is singing with the angels and conducting the choir.
This tribute to an incredible woman was co-authored by Terry Turner, a colleague and friend, and Marcia Russell, Judith’s life partner.
Marcia moved to Shingletown from Upland, CA in 1970, and worked as a nurse at Mercy Hospital for over 30 years.