Judith Ann Hilton
Judith Ann Bennett Hilton, age 73, our beloved mother, sister, grandmother, and friend passed away June 5, 2016. Surrounded by her family, she completed her valiant fight with cancer Sunday, and returned home to the loving arms of her Heavenly Father.
Born July 20, 1942 to Melvin and Irmel Bennett, she was a bright light to all who knew her, and even brighter to those who knew her well. She often spoke fondly about her time growing up. She loved her parents and expressed admiration for the strength of her father and love and compassion of her mother. Judy would return this compassion by personal and loving care during the final 8 years of Judy’s mother’s battle with Alzheimer’s disease.
Judy grew up in Salt Lake, with her sister Jean and her brother Mel. As the middle child, Judy was precocious, and the stories of their time growing up made for many humorous anecdotes that arose from their time at “Apple House”. She also loved the time spent with her childhood friends Juli and Becky, as they played for what seemed like endless days having fun and participating in creative schemes together, most of them hatched by Judy. She also loved her animals she grew up with, notably her horses Socks and Hamlet.
She graduated from Granite High School in 1960 and attended both Brigham Young University and the University of Utah, where she obtained a degree in education. It was during this time that she met the star football player with unmatched intelligence, the love of her life, and her eternal partner, Lawrence Donald Hilton. They were married on August 26, 1964, a union later solemnized in the Salt Lake Temple. Throughout their life they were the consummate example of teamwork in action. As Larry worked his way through engineering school, Judy worked as a second grade teacher at Woodstock Elementary to help pay his way. Although Judy would retire from her job at Woodstock after Larry’s graduation and their starting of a family, she never retired from teaching. Whether by example or by direct words, Judy taught a lesson to all those she interacted with during her time here.
It was not uncommon for her to give her sons’ English essays a once over review for grammar and punctuation. It was almost always the case, that if your paper made it through Judy’s review, it was going to be a guaranteed A. However, the teaching she provided was more than scholastic. Being part of Judy’s life was like being admitted to one of the most select universities in the world – the University of Life.
Always a friend to anyone she met, she was quick with a story, and her humor was one of her strongest qualities. While others often use this gift to tease or mock, Judy regularly used this gift to elevate others, set them at ease, or just make their day better. All of her grandchildren have stories that involve Grandma Judy’s caring and humor.
She made people feel good about themselves, often feeling better than they may have even felt they deserved themselves. But Judy knew that everyone was important, and you felt that way when she spoke to you.
She was extraordinarily honest and fair in dealings with her fellow men, often almost painfully so. While gifted with the keen mind to outpace most around her, she would rather come out on the short end of the stick, rather than deal unfairly with another. While she often reserved her negative words where possible, she was also a fierce defender of her family and was more than willing to stand up for what was right and call out that which was wrong.
She always put her boys first, and was extremely proud of both their accomplishments and the great accomplishments of her grandchildren. She walked an incredible line of inspiring with ideas but ensuring her children could choose their path. Some of the greatest satisfaction of being in her family was knowing that you were glowing in her eyes, no matter what.
She often hid her brilliance behind her friendly demeanor and smile, but the twinkle in her eye often gave her away. She constantly supported both her husband and children, often sacrificing attention and glory for herself, while ensuring they were so often recognized.
Endless hours were spent caring for her ailing mother with unfailing love. After her mother passed, and with her children growing, she again returned to the workforce. Once again, her greatest love was not the job itself, but in helping others succeed. She worked as a teacher for troubled youth, going into their homes to teach the school curriculum but also guide them in life. She assisted in Speech Therapy at elementary schools. She also worked from her own home as a tutor. The effect she had on her students was significant, as she positively impacted not only their grades, but their lives as well. They would keep in touch, even inviting her to their weddings from across the country years later.
Even in her advancing age, having overcome the death of her husband and soul mate in 2005, a brain aneurysm that most do not survive, and the cruel attack of cancer, Judy continued to help others. Her work of indexing was impressive and noted by the church. She processed thousands of entries, ensuring that others would have a chance to accept the gospel. She took satisfaction and joy in the fact she could still effectively help others in the areas that mattered.
Judy was a matchless treasure, whose contributions and support can never be adequately measured. The epitome of placing others first, driving their success, and smiling patiently in the background is how she lived her life. She was brilliant, funny, kind, giving, and special. As a woman and daughter of her Heavenly Father, who could have been the main show and done absolutely anything, she chose instead to serve and serve and serve some more.
She will be often missed and never replaced.
She is survived by her three sons, Bruce (Michelle) Hilton, Dan (Michelle) Hilton, and Joe (Carrie) Hilton, her sister Jean Versteeg, her brother Mel (Leola) Bennett, 11 grandchildren, her forever friend Juli (Maurice) Nielsen, as well as many other friends and family. She was preceded in death by her loving parents.
Her family, friends and relatives who stood by her during Judy’s final battle would also like to thank the Huntsman Cancer Institute for their kind, patient and compassionate care during this difficult struggle.
Funeral services will be held at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, June 8, 2016, at Cannon Mortuary, 2460 Bengal Blvd. (7600 S.), Cottonwood Heights, Utah, 84121. A visitation will be held at the mortuary from 6:00-6:45, immediately prior to the services.