‘There’ll Always Be a Judson’
By Laura Lee Myer
I was born while my dad, A. Ray Lee, was in seminary in New Orleans. I have jokingly said that when the doctor came out and told him, “It’s a girl,” he said, “She’ll go to Judson.” Two years later, when a doctor came out and told him baby No. 2 was also a girl, he said, “She’ll go to Judson, too.”
Whether or not he said so at the time of our births, my sister and I both went to Judson.
Judson College was an all-girls college established in 1838 by Alabama Baptists to educate their daughters in theology, literature and the fine arts. Founded by General Edwin King, Julia Tarrant Barron, Milo P. Jewett and others, the college was located in Marion. The Alabama Women’s Hall of Fame, established in 1970, was housed there.
In the late 1970s and early 1980s, when my sister and I – and one of our cousins – attended Judson, some of its policies and traditions seemed a bit dated. The dress code was strict. We didn’t wear uniforms, but we didn’t wear pants either. We had strict curfews. Meals in the dining hall were served family-style and included lessons in etiquette. We regularly donned formal attire – including gloves – as we celebrated long-held traditions such as The President’s Reception, Pageant and Christmas Tea and Vespers.
One tradition that did not require formal attire was the Step Sings. We would all crowd onto the grand staircase in Jewett Hall to sing such songs as “Tell Me Why,” “Mr. Moon,” “Linger,” and “There’ll Always Be A Judson.”
The final words of “There’ll Always Be A Judson” are “There’ll always be a Judson, and Judson will ever be if Judson means as much to you as Judson means to me.”
Those words are hard to reconcile with the reality that Judson College is no more.
After more than a decade of declining financial support, the Board of Trustees made the difficult decision to close the school. The Class of 2021 is Judson’s final graduating class.
Alumnae who had rallied in an attempt to raise funds to keep the college operating turned their efforts to preserving the history of Judson. At an auction held Dec. 11, Always a Judson – the company established by alumnae for the purpose of preserving Judson’s history – was successful in its efforts in securing many of the historically significant items of Judson’s history, including the Jewett Tea Service, the History of Judson College in Needlepoint and portraits of many of Judson’s founders.
Judson College is gone, but for many alumnae like myself, Judson will ever be. She provided us with excellent educations and helped ground us in our faith. While there, we made friendships that have endured the test of time.
She helped make us the women we are today.
For those of you who have asked, Dad has been ill, but he appears to have finally turned the corner. He hopes to be back writing his column soon.