Judith Brewster Johnson

    Judith Brewster Johnson, publicist, videographer, author and bonne vivante, of North Chatham, passed away on Sunday, January 27th 2020, in Chestnut Hill, in the presence of her brother and sister in law, after a weekend of deep thought and conversation. 
    Born in Nyack, N.Y., she was the only child for her first 11 years of Ted and Lois Johnson, growing up in a quiet community then more rural, than New York suburb. 
    In high school, as she revved up for a life with high expectations, she performed on the piano in what today is Carnegie Hall’s High School Honors Series and later sang across Europe with her college choir, starting a life-long affair with France and French cuisine. 
    During this time, and especially after moving to New York City to work and attend Columbia at the same time, Judith became a magnet for some of the most talented, expressive and interesting people around her --and they for her.  First, she joined the campaign for New York governor of industrialist Howard Samuels, as a campaign writer, flying with the candidate across the state in a tiny turboprop from stop to stop. It was a career baptism by fire and suited her intense capacity for long hours of challenging or stimulating work.
    Though her candidate lost, Judith was talent-spotted on election evening by several well-connected patrons of the Park Association of New York City (later the Parks Council and today, New Yorkers for Parks), where she penned the neighborhood how-to manual “A Little About Lots,” their signature effort to publicize and promote open spaces. 
    A subsequent job as New York assistant to film maker and department store heir Peter Gimbel, while he produced Blue Water, White Death, a search for great white sharks, offered twenty-something Judith another vantage to engage with interesting and well-connected figures of late-1960s/early-1970s New York, a time and culture that fascinated her. 
    Despite these attractions, Judith was determined to pursue her passion for creative writing, and over some years in and outside New York, produced a substantial body of writings, especially short stories and screenplays.  In addition, she published several humorous essays in the national press and a regional theater company produced her dramatic play, about the death of Mary Jo Kopechne at Chappaquiddick. 
    Satisfied creatively, but once again needing a day job, Judith joined corporate communications at Orange & Rockland Utilities, in suburban N.Y.  She said this posed no “right brain-left brain conflict” and she could keep writing at night and on weekends...at least that was the plan, but soon saw a much better way to corporately communicate, transforming her career at the same time, by using video shorts and documentaries to get out the message.  Writing, directing, and producing award-winning weekly in-house videos and community-oriented documentaries --assembling and leading a talented team-- they shot update agricultural fairs, hard-working linemen, and astonishing close ups of Hudson Valley bald eagles.  One of her favorite roles was directing long aerial video shoots through the open doors of helicopters crossing the Hudson or the Ramapo Mountains.  A further stint writing and directing suburban New York TV commercials rounded out this portion of her career.
    In 2003, in Chatham, until then Judith’s summer focus, suddenly a new passion erupted in the person of Curt Eldridge, son of North Chatham -- they swept each other off their feet and neither ever looked back. As a musician and creative thinker like her, Curt and Judith were spiritually bound together and their life together was sprinkled with cooking, music, travelling, entertaining. For Judith, a nearly only-child, and never married, it was the happiest time in her life and all the more tragic when in late 2013 Curt “[left] the planet peacefully … with his adored Judith at his side,” as she later wrote in his obituary. https://www.dignitymemorial.com/obituaries/chatham-ma/hudson-eldridge-5770125
    Since Curt’s passing, Judith has devoted her skills to the non-profit, Pleasant Bay Community Boating, publicizing the experience on the water PBCB offers the disadvantaged and those who need the healing experience of sailing.  Judith also joined her family for memorable vacations abroad --sailing, and otherwise-- gardened with a magic gift, and made Chatham home for herself and her adored feline Petunia, surrounded by good friends, family down the road and cherishing the memory of Curt.
    She is survived by her brother Peter Johnson, of Darien, Connecticut and North Chatham and his family, including her sister in law, Gail, her niece, Alice, with fiance Lyon Taylor and her nephew, Philip, with wife Roxanna Sears.
    A celebration of Judith’s life ­ — via a summer Sunday brunch for friends, neighbors and family at her home ­ — will be held July 12th.  In lieu of flowers, contributions are welcome in Judith’s name to Pleasant Bay Community Boating, 2287 Route 28, Harwich, MA 02645.