Judy Fosdick Oliphant loved to travel, and she delighted in helping University of Oregon students broaden their horizons by studying abroad.
Since 2010, the 57 Oliphant Scholars—undergraduates majoring in international studies—have spent at least one term abroad becoming fluent in languages ranging from Arabic to Wolof. They’ve also gained meaningful experience doing things like serving as a teacher’s aide in one of Mexico’s few programs for children with Down syndrome, working in grassroots humanitarian organizations, and doing original field research.
Oliphant, BA ’62 Phi Beta Kappa, majored in foreign languages. She died September 7, 2016—the day of her 53rd wedding anniversary—in Lafayette, California, at the age of 76.
“Judy made a difference not only in the lives of our students, but in building peace around the world, one step at a time,” said Anita Weiss, an international studies professor who corresponded regularly with Judy, sharing details about how her department’s majors were using their scholarships. “I know our students and their endeavors had become an important part of her life,” she said.
Shortly after her cancer diagnosis three years ago, Judy flew around the world with her sister, Patti—a fitting bucket list item for an adventurous woman who had already traveled to more than 100 countries.
“She fought the best fight, traveling up until last fall,” said Linda Gaylord West, BA ‘62, who roomed with Judy as a freshman and joined her on many trips to Eugene for Oregon games over the years.
When Judy’s husband, Hugh, also a member of the Class of 1962, died unexpectedly in 1994, she endowed a scholarship fund for business students in his honor. Last fall, during what turned out to be her last time watching the Ducks at Autzen, Judy decided to expand her legacy of support with a generous gift to fund the Judy and Hugh Oliphant Endowed Faculty Fund in Sports Business.
“Judy's passion to help make our programs the best in the world was palpable and inspiring,” said Whitney Wagoner, director of the UO’s James H. Warsaw Sports Marketing Center. “She was keenly interested in supporting transformational experiences for our students and her generosity will be impactful for generations to come.”
Judy, who chose to leave Pennsylvania to study at Oregon, shared a room in Susan Campbell Hall with Linda and two other women their first year. She was president of Delta Gamma and tapped for three UO academic honorary societies: Kwama, Phi Theta Upsilon, and Mortar Board.
Although Judy and Hugh were active in many campus activities, their paths didn’t cross until shortly after graduation when both worked in San Francisco. They clicked immediately, and after they married in 1963, Judy devoted herself to community service, working nearly full time to build up the Assistance League’s local thrift store.
Hugh, a Phi Kappa Psi and member of the Skull and Dagger academic honorary, went on to become Simpson Strong-Tie’s “sales champion” according to the company’s website. He was their international sales manager when he died at age 56, and Simpson Strong-Tie has since established a host of employee awards bearing his name.
Their son, Kevin Oliphant of Brentwood, California, his children Caden, Michael, and April, and Judy’s sister and brother, Patti Fosdick Thinger and Roger Fosdick, survive Judy and Hugh. Family and friends are planning a service in mid-to-late October.
—Melody Ward Leslie, University Communications