Pastor Judy Ann Evelyn Gifford, 71, of Paxton, passed away Feb. 18 at her home in Paxton surrounded by her family. She was born Apr. 21, 1941, at North Platte, to Frederick Arthur and Gladys Evelyn Horn Nelson.
Judy attended school in Kearney, before her family moved to Oregon and then to Red Bluff, Calif. where she graduated in 1959. Judy later moved to Sutherland, and worked for TRW in Ogallala.
On Sept. 23, 1961, Judy married Joseph ''Joe'' Edward Gifford at Julesburg, Colo. and they made their home in Paxton. In 1962 they moved seven miles south of Paxton to the farm where they raised their family. In 1996 they moved back into town where they have lived since.
In 1994 Judy''s first assignment was as Parish Ministry Associate for Lodgepole and Chappell. On Oct. 8, 1999, Judy began pastoring Grace Lutheran Church in Sutherland and Maria Lutheran Church in Hershey where she started the Theological Education for Emerging Ministries program. Judy was ordained at First Evangelical Lutheran Church in North Platte on Feb. 23, 2002. Pastor Judy also served as an assistant to the bishop with the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America from 1999-2013.
Pastor Judy was a member of the Maria Lutheran Church and an associate member of Grace Lutheran Church. She was a life member of the Paxton American Legion No. 303 Auxiliary and the DAV Auxiliary.
Survivors include her husband of Paxton; her son, Mark (Teresa) Gifford, of Lincoln; four daughters, Jerri (Jim) Morris, of Gower, Mo., Kathy (Brian) Scusa, of Paxton, Cynthi (Randy) Hartsuiker, of Big Springs and Teresa (Mike) Morland, of Paxton; her mother of North Platte; two brothers, Ron (Cathy) Nelson, of Red Bluff and Stan (Roseann) Nelson, of Longwood, Fla.; a sister, Betty "B.J." Aldrich, of Chadron; sisters-in-law, Mary Nelson, of Red Bluff, Lila Lewis, of Columbus, Margaret Gifford, of Paxton, Hazel Gifford, of North Platte, June Gifford, of Grand Junction, Colo. and Peggy Gifford, of Boise, Idaho.
She is also survived by her 18 grandchildren, Jennifer Bufkin, Jacob Vernetti, Anelisa (Chris) Goodwin, Cheyenne Morris, JuliAnna Scusa, Rissa Patterson, Kerstyn Scusa, Alex (Shay) Hecht, Justin (Brittany) Hecht, Cameron Hecht, Evangela (Mike) George, D.J. Thorpe, Chris Hartsuiker, Zachary Morland, Chance Morland, Kylan Lanowski, Ashley Gifford and Michael Ryan; 11 great-grandchildren; her faithful companion, Heidi; numerous nieces, nephews, other family and friends including Carla Carroll, of Kingman, Ariz.
She was preceded in death by her father, and brother, Larry Nelson.
Memorials may be given to the Nebraska Lutheran Outdoor Ministries or the Callahan Cancer Center.
Cremation was chosen. A memorial service will be 10:30 a.m. Feb. 23 at the First Evangelical Lutheran Church in North Platte with Bishop Brian Maas and Pastor David deFreese officiating. Odean Colonial Chapel is in charge of arrangements.