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Honoring the Past: The Girl Scout History Volunteer Award


On this #ThrowbackThursday, we take a look back on the life of Judy A. Boling, GSOSW's first recipient of the Girl Scout History Volunteer Award. This national historical award, bestowed by local Girl Scout councils, is earned by volunteering a minimum of 200 hours to the GSOSW Historical Committee. Our thanks to Judy for her years of service to Girl Scouts, particularly for her work ensuring Girl Scout history is preserved for years to come!

Judy A. Boling was born in Madras, India on June 19, 1921 to Carroll Eugene Atwood & Frances Ayrer Atwood. Judy’s father, Gene Atwood, was a Singer Sewing Machine representative in India, first in Madras, and later in Bombay. 

While in India, Judy attended a non-denominational Christian boarding school in Kodailanal, in the Palni Hills of south India (1000 miles away from her family home). Every few years Judy traveled to the U.S. on furlough with her family through the Suez Canal. In 1933, she, her sister Jean, and their mother, Frances, returned to the U.S. permanently so the girls could finish school in the States.  They settled in San Antonio, where Judy met the love of her life, Jack Boling. The two graduated from high school in 1938. 

She received an Associate of Arts degree from San Antonio Junior College in 1940. She worked for a printer, and for the rest of her life, she was an excellent proofreader.

Judy and Jack married on April 8, 1941.  He was in the Army Air Corps and Judy was happy to be his service wife.  They were stationed in Sacramento, California, when Pearl Harbor was attacked and the United States was drawn into World War II. During WWII, with two young children to rear and both her husband and mother on active duty in Europe, she managed her mother’s tourist court on the Austin Highway outside of San Antonio. Judy excelled at the management of the mother-daughter operation, holding down the home front while her mother (who joined the WAACs in Europe), sister (an Army nurse in the Philippines) and husband (a bombardier/navigator aboard a B-26 Marauder in Europe) served in the war.

At overseas bases, Judy worked with Japanese-American, Franco-American, and Anglo-American organizations, promoting cultural exchanges and every manner of good will.  In Japan, she and Jack taught English conversation classes in their home for the U.S. Consulate, working with Japanese professionals preparing to attend graduate school or work in the U.S. 

After the war, they lived in many countries around the world raising their four children multi-culturally.  As retirement approached, they searched the US for the best place to be and settled on Oregon. They lived for a short time in Klamath Falls, Oregon, before buying property in Josephine County.  In 1961, they bought land “on the mountain” and built their house. Every year Judy decorated an immense Christmas tree with hundreds of ornaments that she had collected from all over the world. Judy is remembered by many as the “Christmas Tree” lady.  On July 30, 1988 Jack passed away.

In 1983, she received an Oregon Volunteer Award, a bouquet of 13 roses – one for each of the organizations for which she was volunteering at the time.  In 1984 she was recognized as the Community Woman of the Year by the Business and Professional Women’s Association in Grants Pass.  She also supported, but did not serve, as an officer of: KSYS, KSOR, the Southern Oregon Resource Alliance, the American Host Foundation, the Friends of the Library, and the Grants Pass Art Museum.  She was a member of Chapter DC of P.E.O. International and of the Phi Theta Kappa honor society.

For the remainder of her life, Judy was the quintessential volunteer. Wherever there was a community need, she stood ready to assist.  From teaching Sunday school to working with Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, teaching English or first aid, working as a Gray Lady, serving on boards of cultural and political organizations – she donated time, talent, and treasure all her life.  In Grants Pass, Judy served on the boards of Rogue Craftsman, the Rogue Valley Opera Association, the Community Concert Association, the Friends of the Symphony, the Josephine County Historical Society, the Knife and Fork Club and she served on the precinct committee for the Josephine County Republican Women.

Judy was first associated with Boy Scouting as a den mother.  However, when her daughter, Jean entered Brownies, Judy switched to Girl Scouts and worked with them almost until her death.  She started working with Girl Scouts in 1951 but did not register until she went to Morocco the next year. She worked with Girl Scouts of the USA in many locations, the Girl Scouts of Japan, several of the many French Girl Scout organizations, and the Girl Guides of England.  Among her many Scouting friends was Lady Baden-Powell, widow of the founder of the Boy Scouts, with whom Judy corresponded frequently.  

Judy was proficient in knitting, embroidery and folk arts of the countries where she lived and often taught hand and folk arts to Girl Scouts and their leaders. After settling in Grants Pass, Oregon, she worked with Girl Scouts Winema Council, serving twice as its president (May 1970 –May 1972 and May 1979 – May 1982) and as historian from 1985 – 2010.  She was a national-level trainer of Girl Scout leaders and a contributor to the 1980 Girl Scout Badges and Signs book.  She received the Thanks Badge five times from three nations’ Girl Scout organizations and the Juliette Gordon Low World Friendship Medal in 1995.

At the time of her death, Judy was still in contact with many of her former students, some of whom she had not seen since leaving Japan in 1960. On December 16, 2010, Judy A. Boling passed away in Grants Pass, Oregon.