Cover photo for Judith Olszewski's Obituary

Judith Olszewski

February 4, 1934 — December 24, 2022

Judith Olszewski

Judith Delight (Gardner) Hoover Olszewski (“Judy O”)

Judy O passed away peacefully on December 24th, 2022, in Durango, Colorado at Mercy Hospice House after a short illness. She was 88 years old, born February 4th, 1934, in Wichita Kansas to Melva (Cheatum) and Sam Gardner. She grew up in Midway Kansas, working in the family’s restaurant, service station and rental cabin businesses. At a very young age, Judy was waiting tables and running the cash register, filling up cars and washing car windows. As a teenager, she also worked the fields and drove a tractor on the family farm. She had an incredible work ethic.

Judy married and divorced twice and had four girls with her first husband and one son with her second husband. She attended Kansas State University, Dodge City Community College, and Fort Hays University and held a BSN in nursing and several professional certifications.

Judy was well known as a registered nurse. She worked in Dodge City Kansas for many years as Dr. Trekell’s nurse at the Southwest Clinic, and at Trinity Hospital and other places in Dodge City. Later, she worked mainly in the OB unit at Humana Hospital in Dodge City, helping to deliver many babies and care for new mothers and newborns. She moved to Durango in the early 1980’s, working in various communities in the Four Corners area, including Community Hospital in Durango, Southwest Memorial Hospital in Cortez, Colorado and at the Northern Navajo Medical Center in Shiprock, New Mexico. While working at the Navajo Indian Reservation Hospital in Shiprock New Mexico, she focused mainly on the Maternity Ward, Labor & Delivery, Prenatal Education, and Community Diabetes Education for the Navajo People.

After retirement, she volunteered her time with the Manna Soup Kitchen in Durango, serving food to the homeless and underprivileged. She was an independent outreach volunteer to the homeless and transient communities of Durango, and carried food, water, clothing, blankets, and other essential supplies in her car to distribute to those in need.  She was an active volunteer until the age of 87.

Judy O. had a long and full life. She almost always worked two jobs, and sometimes three at a time to make ends meet. She loved spending time with friends and family, road trips, fishing and playing cards. She was a dog lover and always had at least one. She loved her kids fiercely and would give a stranger the shirt off her back if needed. She was smart, hilarious, irreverent at times, caring, tender, loving, forgiving, and sometimes embarrassing (if you've ever heard her sneeze, you know what that means). She lived life her way and spoke her mind. She was a loyal friend with a big heart and had a huge variety of good friends who were like family to her.

In her own words – she wanted her children and everyone she knew to know that “I loved all of you and also my many friends from coast to coast and abroad, people of all races, ages and religions, I pray that you will be kind to each other and be happy, healthy, and safe. Please care for each other. My only regret in life is that I did not have the ability to spend more time with my family.”

She considered her greatest achievements in life to be her children, and their children.

She is survived by:

DaughterDel (Bill) Myers. Grandchild: Melissa McCoy (Casey). Great Grandchildren: Connor and Callan McCoy. Grandchild: Amanda Puvogel (Eric). Great Grandchildren: Clayton Meier, Kimber Ogorzolka, and Cora Puvogel, all of Salina, Kansas.  

Daughter: Jan (Alan) Stevens. Grandchild: Sam Stevens (Joni). Great Grandchild: Olivia Stevens, all of Dodge City, Kansas. Grandchild: Savanna Cummins (Doug). Great Grandchildren: Emmy and Cora Cummins, all of Junction City, Kansas.

Daughter: Pat (Brent) Harris of Dodge City, Kansas. Grandchild: Jamie Rajewski (Kyle) of Topeka, Kansas. Grandchild: Katie Harris, and fiancé Rusty Carpenter of De Soto, Kansas.

Daughter: Jil (Justin) Straight. Grandchildren: Adam and Andi Fontenelle, all of Dodge City. Grandchild: Abby Fontenelle and Great Grandchild: Freyja Fontenelle of Durango, Colorado.

Son: Edward: (Melody) Olszewski. Grandchildren: Annabelle and Charlotte Olszewski of Glenwood Springs, Colorado.

Brother: Jack (Rusti) Gardner of Larned, Kansas.

And many nieces.

Predeceased by:

Parents: Sam and Melva Gardner.

Brother: Rex (Judy) Gardner of Stillwell, Oklahoma.

A Celebration of Life will take place on a date to be announced. Cremation has taken place.

Memorials are suggested by the family to: Manna Soup Kitchen, P.O. Box 1196, Durango CO. 81302 or; La Plata County Humane Society, 1111 S. Camino Del Rio, Durango CO. 81303 or; or Breast Cancer Research Foundation at in the name of Judy Olszewski (Judy O.).  Thoughts and memories may be shared in the online guest book at


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