Thursday, May 24, 2012

S. Derrickson Moore — Las Cruces Style We'll miss you, Judy Luna LAS CRUCES — Judy Luna’s was one of the first faces I saw at the Las Cruces Sun-News. In the hot summer of 1994, after a conversation about life, journalism and the state of newspapers with then-managing editor, the late, great Harold Cousland, I was sent off to see Judy. Between the two of them, I was reassured that I’d made the right move in relocating from South Florida, and I was well on my way to realizing that I’d found my querencia, that special place where one’s soul can make a home. For 25 years, Judy has put the “human” in human resources, here at the Sun-News and throughout southern New Mexico. Judy manages to make everyone feel warmly welcomed, organized, ready to cope with life’s trials and excited about tackling new projects and adventures. Shortly after my arrival, I found myself in her office with a dedicated group that created the Las Cruces International Mariachi Festival, which grew to become one of the world’s most celebrated events of its kind. Over the next couple of decades, I discovered Judy has had a quiet but crucial role in all kinds of activities that make our community tick. She was a founder of Coats for Kids, and helped a long list of good causes and charities connect with reporters and sponsors who could bring their stories to the world and help them grow and prosper. From the symphony to centennial celebrations, from health-oriented charities to family help centers and compassionate one-on-one programs like Dress-The-Child that helped thousands of needy kids get their first brand new clothes and shoes … Judy was there. We are a community richer in spirit than dollars, but Judy somehow always seemed to know how to help everyone — from befuddled employees trying to figure out tax codes, insurance plans and 401k plans to volunteers with small nonprofits and big community fundraising drives — get the most from their available resources. And creatively scrounge for more, if needed. God is in the details, they say, and so is Judy. She even found ways to put on pretty and festive holiday staff parties in the ugly old Sun-News building. She has been the constant in our itinerant world of journalism. I’ve lost count of the entries in what one wag referred to as the Las Cruces Publishers Clearing House Sweepstakes, but whenever somebody new has turned up, Judy has been there to show them the ropes and introduce them to the wild and wonderful ways of southern New Mexico. One of our all-time favorite publishers, Michael C. Bush, now CEO/President of Heartland Publications, based in Connecticut, is a devoted Judy fan. “Judy was truly an ambassador of hope and caring both on and off the job. She helped bridge the cultural divides, not only translating language to those not skilled enough to speak the other, but translating ideas and needs, not only bringing people together but also helping them celebrate what makes us different,” Michael e-mailed recently. “As an HR professional, she knew the law but she also knew the hearts, helping me to be a better employer and human being. She also helped to bring out the best in employees. She truly is one of the best friends Las Cruces has ever had. But never interested in the limelight, she often goes unnoticed but never unappreciated,” Michael said. Times are changing. Human resources functions, like printing and many of our editing duties, are now based at our sister paper, the El Paso Times, in Texas. There have been some big changes in Judy’s life this year, too. She recently married her soul mate Robert Marquez, in the Gila Wilderness, in a ceremony as creative and inclusive as she is. She’s two semesters away from a new degree in psychology from NMSU and has some intriguing goals focusing on specialties that could take her on international travels before long, exploring ways to help those in crises cope with the mental and emotional tolls of global disasters and catastrophic change. Her world-class compassion deserves an international venue, and we hope she has a deserving forum for her creativity. But selfishly, I’ll miss her. A lot. S. Derrickson Moore can be reached at; (575) 541-5450. To share comments, go to and click on Blogzone and Las Cruces Style. Follow her on Twitter @DerricksonMoore.

1 comment:

Randy Harris said...

Just a note to say thanks for the outstanding article about Judy. She and Robert are exceptional beings and it was nurturing to see so much acknowledgment for her.


Randy Harris