Cover photo for Judith Gardner's Obituary
Judith Gardner Profile Photo
1937 Judith 2023

Judith Gardner

September 24, 1937 — December 8, 2023

St. Peter, MN

Judith “Judy” M. Gardner (née Judith Raye Morey) exited life’s stage on Friday, December 8, 2023, joining her beloved husband Robert M Gardner who predeceased her only days earlier. Judy was 86 years old and had been an active member of the St Peter community since 1986.

A celebration of life for both Rob and Judy will be held at 1:00 p.m. on Monday, April 1, 2024 in Christ Chapel on the campus of Gustavus Adolphus College, St Peter, MN. A reception and opportunity to share memories and stories will follow. St. Peter Funeral Home is assisting the family with arrangements.

Judy was born on September 24, 1937 to David and Ida (Sanders) Morey in Waukesha, WI, joined four years later by her brother Jim. She graduated from Waukesha High School in 1955 and was a much-loved friend, holding a leadership role as a member of Job’s Daughters and being chosen as Prom Queen her junior year. While still in school, she worked as a nursing assistant at Waukesha Memorial Hospital. She went on to attend Carroll College (now University) 1955-1957, then completed her BSN in 1960 at Northwestern University – Chicago Wesley Memorial School of Nursing. She was a member of Alpha Gamma Delta sorority and Sigma Theta Tau international nursing honors society.

In 1960, Judy married Dr. David R Sanderson (divorced 1978) and moved to Rochester, MN where she lived until 1988. From 1960-61 she was a Clinical Instructor at St. Mary’s Hospital School of Nursing in Rochester, MN, before she took time off to raise her five children. From 1977 until she retired in 2007 she taught nursing at Rochester Community College (1977-1993) and Gustavus Adolphus College in St Peter, MN (1993-2007). In 1984 she earned her MS from the University of Minnesota School of Nursing. Between 1978 and 1987 she also held staff nurse posts at Olmsted Community Hospital and the Methodist Hospital Perinatal Unit, both in Rochester, MN. In 1990, she was an exchange professor at Kansai Gaidai University of Foreign Languages, Hirakata, Japan.

Alongside her passion for nursing and health education, Judy shared a love for the theatre, possibly catching the acting bug from Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne who were her backyard neighbors while she was growing up in Genesee Depot, WI. She participated in her high school theatre productions and later became active in the Rochester Civic Theatre (RCT), beginning with the role of Roxanne in Cyrano de Bergerac in 1966. Some of her memorable performances were in West Side Story, Guys and Dolls, Private Lives, A Little Night Music and The Cherry Orchard. Over the next twenty years she was recognised as a highly talented actress, both at RCT and for the Mayo Clinic, IBM, and local radio and television where she acted in educational films, radio, TV, & advertising. In a 1980 production of Summer and Smoke, Judy was directed by Rob Gardner. They were married in 1986 and they enjoyed 37 years making each other laugh. From then on, Judy’s passion for theatre was primarily channelled into supporting Rob in his career as Professor of Theatre at Gustavus Adolphus College, with occasional stints performing alongside Rob. Their contribution to Gustavus was recognised in 2020 with the naming of the Rob and Judy Gardner Laboratory Theatre.

Judy was also active in the community and in church, most recently as a member of Church of the Holy Communion, St Peter, where over the years she held positions as Senior Warden, Chalice Bearer, Lector, member of the Vestry, and Parish Nurse. She was also the “card lady” – writing and sending cards to celebrate birthdays and anniversaries – and took it upon herself to attend to the church linens. Indeed, to the amusement of family and friends, laundry was one of her favourite pastimes with hardly a day going by without her enjoying a load or two.

Travel was another important part of her life: visiting family across the US and in England, Japan, and Mexico; pursuing nursing education research in many parts of the world; travelling for pleasure across the Americas, Europe, Asia, and Australia. Her home was filled with mementoes that expressed the importance to her of family, hobbies, and other cultures.

Judy is survived by her children, David (Monica) Sanderson of Concord, MA, Kathy (Mark) Andrews of Oxfordshire, England, Bob (Sawako Nishikawa) Sanderson of Osaka, Japan and Lisa (Joel) Cox of Leawood, KS; stepdaughter, Rachel (Keith) Bridges of Plymouth, MN; grandchildren, Madeleine, Elijah, Cady, Bobby, Celia, Tatum, Cory, Rosey and Andrew; brother, James D (Kathy) Morey; nephew, James P. (Becky) Morey; and niece, Jennifer Morey Hawkins. She was preceded in death by her daughter, Mary Sanderson; and her grandson, Josiah Andrews.

In lieu of flowers, gifts in memory of Rob and Judy Gardner may be made to the Gardner Theatre Endowment at Gustavus Adolphus College, either online or by mail. Questions can be directed to or 507-933-7512.



Go to Gustavus Gift Website at

1. Please select One-Time Gift or Sustaining Gift.

2. ⁠Then Donation Comments will appear,

3. ⁠Please mention “The Gardner Theatre Endowment”


By Mail:

Advancement Services

Gustavus Adolphus College

800 West College Avenue

Saint Peter, MN 56082


Visits: 2223

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the
Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Service map data © OpenStreetMap contributors