The Judy R. Weinsoft Memorial
Research Library Fund
Some years ago, Judy Weinsoft drafted her own epitaph: “She worked in her own quiet way for a better world.” For a quiet and unassuming person, which is what she was, Judy had a tremendous impact on the American Branch during the three years she was a member before her untimely death in March 1994, at age 44, of breast cancer. Her generosity in establishing an endowed library fund will assure that her impact continues.
“I joined the Society as a lark,” Judy told Portland Oregonian reporter Fran Gardner in an interview that was published August 22, 1993. Judy spotted an article about Richard III on the front page of the Wall Street Journal in 1991, tracked us down in the Encyclopedia of Associations (the natural thing for a research librarian to do), and found herself hooked. A regular patron of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, she tried to get them to produce Gordon Daviot’s Dickon as an antidote to Shakespeare’s play during their 1993 season; failing that, she tried to find a Society speaker to deliver a lecture at the Festival. Finally, despite her modest and unfounded reservations about her own abilities, she decided to deliver the lecture herself.
The lecture, titled “Strutting and Fretting His Hour Upon the Stage” and delivered on August 27, 1993 to a rapt audience of over 100, was a great success. Judy’s research was thorough, her writing lively and entertaining, her insights fresh and persuasive, and her delivery impeccable. Nothing if not thorough in all aspects of preparation, Judy had primed friends and family to ask the critical questions after the lecture (such as, after 500 years, who cares?), and even designed and sold I Was Framed and I Was Upstaged T-shirts to benefit our nonfiction library. Surpassing herself and reaching new heights of thoroughness, Judy drove her typist and her editor almost to despair as she strove for and almost achieved the ultimate typo-free article in the Winter 1993/94 Ricardian Register.
What was not obvious to many people was that Judy Weinsoft researched and delivered her lecture while undergoing chemotherapy and while in the early stages of the final metastasis. Those of us in the Society who were privileged to work with her on this project continue to be inspired by her courage, her grace, and her quiet determination to complete the things that were most important to her. “I think that what impressed me most about Judy — and sticks in my mind today — was her total, and apparently joyful, engagement in life,” writes nonfiction librarian Helen Maurer. “Knowing she was dying, she was busy living; she affirmed life and its possibilities with unfaltering commitment and enthusiasm. Though I knew her all too briefly, I will remember her graciousness, her good humor, and her warmth.”
The lecture project gave a positive and revitalizing focus to some of Judy’s last months, and she credited her Ricardian involvement with extending her period of full functionality. Because she relied heavily on our nonfiction library in her research, and because she was a librarian by profession, Judy chose the nonfiction library as the area in which she wanted to pay back what only Judy would see as her debt to the Society. (The rest of us think the shoe is on the other foot.)
The result is her lasting legacy to the vindication of Richard III: The Judy R. Weinsoft Memorial Research Library Fund. Income from her bequest of approximately $4,000 (and the more than $1,000 donated by her family and friends) will be used every year to buy books and other materials for the nonfiction library, helping the Branch to keep pace with the explosion in fifteenth- century studies and to give members access to the kinds of materials on Yorkist-era England found only in major library centers.
A copy of the videotape of Judy’s lecture is available for borrowing from our audio- visual library. Her hilarious I Was Upstaged T-shirts are available from the Sales Office, with proceeds going to build Judy’s library fund. In Judy’s obituary and at her memorial service, the Richard III Society, American Branch was suggested for memorial contributions. We have also gained two new Ricardians: her husband, Phil Goldsmith, and her mother, Marcia Weinsoft..
We hope that other Ricardians will pay tribute to the spirit of this very thorough reference librarian who preferred to work in a quiet way for a better world, but found the resources to be both vocal and effective in her defense of Richard III. Memorial contributions to the Weinsoft Library Fund may be sent to the attention of our treasurer.
Although Judy would be embarrassed and call it hyperbole, we can safely say that Judy Weinsoft blazed across our Ricardian landscape like a shooting star across the night sky. And like a shooting star, she is gone before we had a chance fully to appreciate what we were about to lose. We will continue to be dazzled by the paradox of her quiet brilliance. And we will miss her.