LAUREL — Judy Faye Lentsch, age 74, passed away on Good Friday, 19 April, 2019, peacefully in her home after a long and brutal fight with cancer. Her fighting spirit never surrendered to the illness, but her body simply grew too weak to sustain the battle. God saw fit to end her struggles and bring her home to her deserved reward.
Judy was born in Bladenboro, North Carolina, to Frank and Doris Hill on June 16, 1944. Her family were sharecroppers during her formative years and she worked in the fields alongside her brother and three sisters. She graduated from high school in Loris, South Carolina, in 1962. She later held many jobs, including working in the shipping department of an auto supply house, as a bartender and manager at several locations, as an interior and exterior painter of homes and businesses, hung wallpaper in homes, and as a certified nurse's assistant and tech in several hospitals. No matter the job at hand, her stellar work ethic set the "gold standard" for others.
She married Eugene Howell in 1964 in Wilmington, North Carolina, and remained his partner until his passing in 1967 due to Hogkin's lymphoma. She met and married Larry Shaw in Wilmington in 1968. Together they had a daughter, Windy, in 1969. They were divorced in 1973. She met the love of her life, Doug Lentsch, in 1974 in Wilmington and remained with him until her passing. Doug was an officer in the U.S. Coast Guard until he retired in 1995, and they then moved on to become the general manager of Cook Inlet Spill Prevention & Response Inc. (CISPRI) in Nikiski, Alaska, until he retired in 2009. Together they moved to their "retirement" home in Laurel.
Judy was dedicated to her family and very capably filled the roles of daughter, sister, mother, wife, grandmother, great-grandmother and breadwinner. She followed her husband through the multiple moves required by his career without complaint, and worked many jobs as she helped provide for their needs. Her favorite pastime was being the matriarch and fierce defender of her "flock" and loving her husband, daughter, two granddaughters and four great-grandchildren. She enjoyed working in the yard and always competed to ensure her yard was "the envy of the block." She also loved to dance and frequently stole the show as other dancers stopped to watch her skilled moves on the dance floor.
Judy was preceded in death by her parents, Frank and Doris; her daughter, Windy; her brother, Willis; her older sister, Barbara; and her first husband, Gene. She is survived by her husband, Doug; her granddaughters, Summer Aiena (Beaumont, Texas) and Stephanie Aiena Trahan (Laurel); and four great-grandchildren, Tristin and Trinitie Trahan (Laurel), and Brycen and Baylen McDonald (Nome, Texas); her two sisters, Carolyn Mincey (Rocky Point, North Carolina) and Glenda Beistel (Castle Hayne, North Carolina); her best friend, Genell Chambers (Beaumont, Texas); and a host of other family and dear friends who will miss her beautiful smile and warm heart. Judy was simply a hard-working, hard-loving woman who had a positive influence on those who knew and loved her. In Montana terms, she was a woman whom you would be proud to "ride the river with." She lived life on her terms and passed the same way.
Cremation has taken place and plans are being made to spread her ashes according to her wishes.