Judith Ann Goldring, 1942-2016, founder of the Jack Goldring Fund in The New York Community Trust. An ardent crusader for people with developmental and intellectual disabilities.
Whether shopping for comic books with her brother Jack, who was born with a brain injury, or shaping the lives of New Yorkers with intellectual and developmental disabilities, Judy Goldring sensed from an early age that true joy came from devotion to others.
And that meant devoting not just money but her time, her empathy, and her expertise.
“I was born healthy, in comfort, and never deprived of material things,” she told her husband, Allan Talbot, soon after meeting him in 1994. “My good luck really motivated me to help others.” That luck continued—she and Allan eventually married and enjoyed more than two decades of love and adventures.
Judy touched numerous lives before her death in 2016, at age 73, from pancreatic cancer. One of her enduring legacies is the Jack Goldring Fund in The New York Community Trust, established and named after her eldest brother, who died in 1986.
The fund has already distributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to nonprofits that help people with developmental and intellectual disabilities cope with the concerns they face daily, including abuse and neglect, challenges obtaining health care, and problems with guardianship. Judy’s gift has, in short, given many New Yorkers a newfound independence.
Those who knew her say Judy’s zest and wit, as well as her compassion and empathy for those facing intellectual disabilities, cannot truly be duplicated. But her determination to make life better for some of the city’s neediest and least-served residents will live on through the fund she nurtured—and inspire other philanthropic New Yorkers to work with The Trust to support the causes they care about.
One of four children, Judith Ann Goldring was born and raised in Clayton, Missouri, a suburb of St. Louis. She was close to Jack, who loved baseball and movies as well as comics and dime novels. The Goldrings were comfortable financially but faced a variety of health problems in addition to Jack’s disability. Judy and her other brother, Lou, were called upon at an early age to look out for those closest to them.“Judy was a serious and purposeful child,” Lou remembers. “What she reallywanted was to help people. Even if she didn’t have a brother with a disability, she would have been just as caring for people with disabilities.”
At Skidmore College in upstate New York, she met MaryAnn Holohean, who became a lifelong friend and grew close with Jack. After graduation, the women moved in together and Judy enrolled in New York University’s Graduate School of Social Work. Jack’s visits to their Greenwich Village apartment were always highlights.
“He was just a lot of fun with an interesting sense of humor,” Holohean says. “Judy was very matter-of-fact with him, never condescending in any way. Jack had a world-class comic book collection and the highlight of the visits was a comic book store in the Village.”
“Judy just made me a better person in every way,” Holohean adds. “My mother would have been happy to take Judy on as a daughter!”
After graduating from NYU in 1966, Judy took a job with Jewish Family Services of New York, where she worked until 1978 as a therapist and supervisor. She next started a private practice, maintaining it until 2008. She was an adjunct professor at the NYU Graduate School of Social Work and published a book, “Quick Response Therapy: A Time-Limited Treatment Approach.”
Friends say much of Judy’s motivation to help the intellectually disabled came from her experiences watching out for her brother. At one point, Jack was in a facility that didn’t teach him anything — “it was just a caregiving place,” says family friend Maxine Meyerhardt. “I remember one visit when he had trouble walking and Judy realized his shoes were way too small. Also, she felt that when Jack visited in the city, she could teach him things and show him a better quality of life.”
Meyerhardt adds: “That’s why The New York Community Trust was so important to Judy. She wanted people to get the right kind of care.”
When Jack Goldring died of a heart attack in 1986, Holohean remembers, “Judy was devastated.” Judy, who lived frugally, had come into some money after the death of her parents and was looking at options to honor Jack’s memory and do good over the long term.
Holohean suggested The Trust, and Judy decided to establish a fund to conduct her philanthropy. After her death, her will provided for additional contributions to the Jack Goldring Fund in The Trust.
“As both a family member and a professional in the field of providing family therapy for people with disabilities,” says Holohean, “Judy knew the best of philanthropy comes from both the head and the heart.”
Judy’s involvement always went far beyond giving money. One of the groups that drew her attention was AHRC New York City, which aids people with developmental and intellectual disabilities and serves as a guardian for those lacking caregivers. As busy as she was professionally and personally, Judy still made time to volunteer.
—Kathryn Edmundson, AHRC New York City volunteer
Judy also was determined to have a fulfilling private life. In 1994, she posted an ad on amatchmaking service: “52-year-old therapist. Lives on West Side. Loves reading, politics, and outdoor activities like hiking.”
Allan Talbot, a city planner and author, reached out, and they met for a drink on the Upper West Side. The next day they hiked Hook Mountain, overlooking the Hudson River in Nyack, where Allan got a sense of Judy’s rigor.
“She climbed like a goat,” he remembers, “and talked all the way up.” And as she described her work, he sensed she was very good at what she did, with illustrious clients in her therapy practice: “I picked up hints that many were in the entertainment business, but, despite my probing, she never named names.”
Next he took her biking—a ride through Manhattan that Allan says was a bit hair-raising for Judy. (“At one point she accused me of trying to kill her,” Allan laughingly recalls.) But she persevered both with the bike and with Allan, and they married in 1999.
“Judy never did anything without giving it her all,” Allan adds. “And so the woman who barely made it home on the bike that first day later went on to bike from Prague to Vienna, Bologna to Venice, and across Morocco.
“While Judy could come across as calm and no-nonsense, she was a warm, cuddly woman who loved a good laugh,” Allan remembers. While reminiscing for this publication, he added, “She constantly surprised me with bawdy text messages, handmade birthday cards, and love notes tucked under my pillow. She was a total joy 75 percent of the time. That’s one hell of a batting average.”
—Irfan Hasan, The New York Community Trust
A professional outlook as much as personal experience defined Judith Goldring’s philanthropic mindset. “Judy was an ideal donor,”
says Irfan Hasan, who oversees health and behavioral health grantmaking at The Trust. “She knew what issues she cared about and understood that The Trust was the place to go to make sure her generosity could be put to maximum use.”Every year, Hasan says, “Judy would direct money to The Trust’s grantmaking from her donor-advised fund, relying on us to identify and fund nonprofits that fit with her interests and passions.” Sometimes she asked to accompany Hasan on site visits. He recalls a long, hot subway ride from Manhattan to Queens one summer to meet with Spanish-speaking youth with developmental disabilities who were transitioning from school to work.
“The fact that we walked from the subway to the school and were both drenched in sweat didn’t faze her,” Hasan says. “It was, as she noted, a little
inconvenience compared to the joy in seeing how her fund at The Trust helped young people make their own decisions — often for the very first time.”
It is a fitting tribute that such a trailblazer is remembered for bringing boundless energy, fresh ideas, and unique insights to the care of the intellectually and developmentally disabled. The Jack Goldring Fund ensures that Judy’s legacy endures.
Written for The Trust by Tom Mashberg, a contributing writer to The New York Times.
She started a fund in The Trust to improve the lives of people with developmental and intellectual disabilities.
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