Mary Garner

Obituary of Mary Judith Garner

Mary Judith "Judy" Garner, 74, of State College, died Friday, March 29, 2024, at UPMC Community Osteopathic in Harrisburg, PA.

Born May 2, 1949, in Bellefonte, she was the daughter of the late John Albert and Marie Grillo Garner.

She is survived by her sisters, Evelyn Flexner and husband, Paul, of Salisbury, MD, Margaret "Peg" Roy and husband, Pete, of State College; 12 nieces and nephews; and 19 great-nieces and great-nephews; sister in-law, Yvonne Garner of York, PA. Her brother, John Albert "Jack" Garner Jr. preceded her in death on December 23, 2016. Judy and Jack were twins and the oldest of the siblings.

Judy was a 1967 graduate of State College High School where she participated in the marching band and choir. Following graduation, she enrolled in the first class of Penn State's BSN Nursing program and graduated in 1970. While at Penn State, she enlisted in the Army Reserves and upon graduation, she was commissioned as an officer. She completed basic training at Fort Sam Huston and advanced training at Fort Meade. She was stationed in Seoul, Korea in a MASH unit for one year caring for medical-surgical patients. Returning home, she was stationed at Walter Reed Hospital, caring for neonatal ICU infants. During her military service as a 1st Lieutenant, she was recognized and received several honorary medals, the National Defense Service medal and the Armed Forces Expeditionary medal (Korea).

After completing her time in the Army, Judy was employed as a public health nurse, visiting patients in their homes. She was devoted and loved her rural clients, many of whom were below the poverty level. Judy was known to scan the closets of her parents and younger sisters to provide needed items to her patients. The family quickly learned that when something went missing, Judy found someone who needed it more.

The experience of managing impoverished client's, inspired Judy to further her education. She continued her nursing education at PSU and was a 1976 MSN graduate of their first master's prepared nursing class. She became licensed as a family nurse practioner.

She began this phase of her career as the director of nursing services for PA Public Health Dept., managing the nursing care provided to clients in multiple counties. Desiring less travel and to relocate to State College, Judy became the Director of Nursing Services at Penn State's Ritenour health services spending several years managing the needs of students. Judy would later be recruited to serve for the state of Pennsylvania acting as the Director of School services monitoring schools for adequate nursing care, education and intervention provided to students and later became the Director of Oncology, providing cancer awareness education throughout the state. Health issues required her to retire early on disability.

Many saw her imminent and profound decline, but despite significant immobility, leading to a host of other conditions, Judy was known for her loving, positive personality and relentless joyful spirit! Using prayer as a tool to manage her life, she decided to become a member of the lay Franciscan community. Judy lived by the St Francis admonition to "go forth and preach the gospel, use words only when necessary."

Judys aides, seeing her many disabilities, would not have wanted to change places with her. What many would never know is that she quickly become their prayer warrior. She could quickly befriend anyone, in doing so, she would learn of their problems which would compel her to pray for their needs. She often helped people return to church and seek God in prayer. She prayed for others with fervent intention and expectation.

Disabilities didn't lessen her love for life, it strengthened her reserve. Regardless, of her countless maladies, her mind was always on others.

Visitation will be held from 5–7pm, Tuesday, April 2, 2024 at Koch Funeral Home, 2401 S. Atherton St., State College, PA.

A funeral mass will be held at 10:30am on Wednesday, April 3, 2024 at Our Lady of Victory Church, 820 Westerly Parkway, State College with Father George Jakopac officiating.

Burial will be in Boalsburg Cemetery following the service.

Memorial contributions in remembrance of Judy may be made to Our Lady of Victory Church at

Arrangements are under the care of Koch Funeral Home, State College. Online condolences may be entered at

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Visitation at Funeral Home

5:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Tuesday, April 2, 2024
Koch Funeral Home
2401 S. Atherton St.
State College, Pennsylvania, United States


10:30 am
Wednesday, April 3, 2024
Our Lady of Victory Catholic Church
820 Westerly Parkway
State College, Pennsylvania, United States

Final Resting Place

12:00 pm
Wednesday, April 3, 2024
Boalsburg Cemetery
Old Boalsburg Road P.O. Box 443
Boalsburg, Pennsylvania, United States
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