One of the hardest things to do in life is saying goodbye to a friend. When I joined Texas PPA many years ago, one of the first friendships I made was with Judy Dumas of Brownwood, Texas. We were both relatively new to the profession and eager to learn. Throughout the years, we shared what we learned and encouraged one another. But what I didn’t know until reading other Facebook posts after her passing was that my experience was not unique. Others told the same story. Indeed, Judy never met a stranger.
In 1972, Judy married Richard Dumas. Having two children of her own, she now had the responsibility of raising and managing a family of ten. Within a few years, they had four sons playing football and Judy was a member of the Booster Club. She had just taken an adult continuing education class in photography at Howard Payne University and, with an “all manual” 35mm camera and a button-making machine, began photographing teams and individuals. At the time, Judy was working as a bookkeeper and accountant but photography offered a world of new challenges and endless possibilities. By 1987, she was using a medium-format Bronica and took her first class at the Texas School of Professional Photography. Since that time, Judy has held the record for attending the school more times than anyone in history according to Don Dickson.
In 1990, Judy took another huge step by purchasing and remodelling a 3,000 square foot retail building in Brownwood. She also took on a business partner, her son, Mark Dumas. With Mark doing more and more of the actual photography, Judy became more involved in the world of digital image enhancement and took on a new role as the studio retouch artist. Since then, her talents had been discovered by other professional photographers throughout Texas who turned to her for that final artistic touch that often makes the difference between a merit image and an award-winning image.
Judy was a gentle, kind, loving, and accepting lady who put all of her mind and soul into any task before her. Her son, Mark, described her as “probably the most balanced and even tempered human on Earth.” For those of us who knew her on a professional level, Judy was quite entrepreneurial and her attention to detail and dedication to professional photography soon caught the attention of the officers and staff at Texas PPA and she was elected as President in 2013. As the President of Texas PPA, she put together what has been called “the last of the big conventions” for our association.
In recent years, Judy had her hands full caring for her ailing husband, Richard. That monumental task became even more trying when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. It was a hard fight that she refused to give up, even as it continued to ravage her physically. Although we mourn her passing, we can take note of her life as a shining example of how to be a true friend to others. As for myself, I will miss her caring spirit and her sincere friendship that spanned several decades. Texas and the world have lost a wonderful lady but Heaven has gained a new angel.