Reviewed by Mary McLaughlin, Ma-TESOL; M.S. SpEd
An Oconomowoc, Wisconsin art teacher will continue to live on and influence a community despite her recent passing. Judy Kuehn, 74 passed away in Illinois where she moved to be near her daughter and grandkids.
Kuehn, who is remembered for her passion as an art teacher, was also known for her flamboyantly painted Cadillac Brougham that she drove around town.
Most of her teaching career was spent at Park Lawn School but included time at other area high school and middle schools. Her long list of achievements included being a Kohl-award winner, founding a district artist in residence program and taking part in dozens of high school art expositions and theater productions. She was also a member of the Oconomowoc Architectural Committee.
Her daughter, Kate Habben remembers her as being a believer that children should be able to express themselves in non-traditional ways. In the late 1990’s Kuehn allowed her sixth grade students to paint her 17-foot Cadillac as an art project. The art project became an annual tradition and each year students looked forward to painting the large Cadillac.
Kuehn didn’t believe in television. When her daughter bought her one as a gift, she ordered her to remove it from her house within a week. She instead believed in being creative and exercising the right side of the brain.
Jill LaGrange, a fellow art teacher, described Kuehn as a teacher that was present in her student’s lives, attending art shows, bake sales and staying after school to chat.
Before passing, Kuehn chose to direct funding for a Judy Kuehn Memorial Fund through the Oconomowoc Public Education Fund. According to Habben, the memorial was established to “…continue to foster excellence in the arts in Oconomowoc.”
The memorial fund will allow Kuehn’s passion for art to live on long after her death.