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01/04/2024 11:00 AM

Judith Bodner

On Nov. 21, 2023, Judith (Hooghkirk) “Judy” Bodner, 86, of Madison, passed away at Yale New Haven Hospital with her children by her side. She was the wife of the late John A. Bodner. Judy was born in New Haven on June 10, 1937, the eldest child of the late Albert and Evelyn (Bailey) Hooghkirk. She grew up in Stony Creek and Guilford, graduating from Guilford High School in 1955 before heading to New Haven State Teachers College (now Southern Connecticut State University), where she earned her degree.

Mrs. Bodner taught special education and lower elementary grades in the Guilford school system her entire career. A long-time member of the First Congregational Church in Madison, Judy also taught Sunday school for many years. She always appreciated seeing her students as grown-ups and often remarked she was surprised when they remembered her. Wanting to teach in creative ways, a highlight of her time at A.W. Cox Elementary was the “Transition 500,” which combined her love of teaching and auto racing. Each year, Judy’s students would build pinewood derby-style cars that raced down a custom-made track in front of the whole school. An avid NASCAR fan, Judy rooted for several drivers, whom she referred to collectively as “my boys.”

Throughout her life, Judy enjoyed gardening, sewing, and crafts. She also inherited the title of family genealogist from her mother and could often be found in local libraries with her nose in old volumes in search of new family connections. Such was her love of libraries in general that Judy once got overlooked in the Scranton Library and got locked inside after closing! Through a friend, Judy began volunteering for Habitat for Humanity in New Haven after she retired from teaching. She spent a few days working at a build site but found she was better suited to helping in the main office and tending to the garden there. For her commitment to Habitat, she was honored as their Volunteer of the Year in 2003.

Together, John and Judy enjoyed traveling near and far, driving around the state and across the country, seeking out roads less traveled. For many years, right until her final weeks, Judy could be found walking with friends in Guilford and Killingworth several days a week. She treasured her time with her friends and family and was happiest when surrounded by them.

Judy was predeceased by her husband of 62 years, John. She was the loving mother to daughter Debbie and her husband Hans Dekkers of Killingworth and son Michael and his wife Sarah Bodner of Dunmore, Pennsylvania. She was the cherished big sister of David Hooghkirk and his wife, Sylvia, of Chester, and Sandra Murray of Branford. Judy was predeceased by her brother Paul Hooghkirk, and sisters, Phyllis Evanuk and Janice Hooghkirk. She is also survived by her extended family and many friends.

A memorial celebration of Judy’s life will be held on Saturday, Jan. 20. A service will be held at 10:30 a.m. in the chapel of the First Congregational Church in Madison, followed by a reception. Burial will be held privately at West Cemetery, Madison. Judy will be lovingly remembered for her kindness, friendship, and love of learning. All are welcome to join her family in saying goodbye to a wonderful mother and friend. Continuing Judy’s spirit of giving and teaching, charitable contributions in her memory can be made to Habitat for Humanity of Greater New Haven ( or Donors Choose (, which helps teachers get the supplies needed to provide the best educational experiences. Arrangements are in the care of the Guilford Funeral Home, 115 Church Street, Guilford. To share a memory or leave condolences, visit