Judi Kanne regularly collected compelling story ideas from her many conversations, trips, and meetings, then delved into the topics with the knowledge of a nurse and the passion of a journalist.
Combining both majors, her articles covered a fascinating variety of topics: health literacy, essential oils, hospital laundry, paramedics, and eating disorders. Some of his stories covered amazing medical breakthroughs, while others revealed the human side of healing.
Judi always dealt with editors and interviewees with a joy and warmth that came naturally to her. He made instant friends with the people he knew.
Judith Leah Leonard Kanne, a health care journalist, nurse, loving wife and mother, died last week of dementia with Lewy bodies at her home in metro Atlanta. She was 78 years old.
He had been a member of AHCJ since 2003. The organization was founded in 1998.
After a series of disconcerting and painful symptoms, Judi spent more than two months in two hospitals and a rehab center earlier this year. Her husband, Barry, said it took some time for doctors to discover her diagnosis because many bodily functions were affected. Many people with Lewy body dementia develop movement symptoms like Judi did.
He died peacefully at home among family members, Barry said last week.
It is a testament to her devotion to her dual careers in nursing and journalism that although she was experiencing symptoms, she wanted her final story completed and published for Georgia Health News. According to their briefing notes, the story was published in May, on the upcoming release of the Georgia Nurses Hall of Fame.
A life of learning and work.
Judi, the daughter of Polish immigrants, was born and raised in San Diego. She married her lover, Barrett Michael “Barry” Kanne, in 1962, and they celebrated 59 years together last St. Patrick’s Day.
Barry’s career at Motorola took them across the country. In 1970, they moved to the Chicago area, where they raised their two daughters. There, Judi enrolled in a community college, where she received an associate’s degree in nursing and later worked in hospitals in the Chicago suburbs.
In 1981, Judi and her family moved to Dunwoody, outside of Atlanta.
Still interested in continuing her education, Judi enrolled at Georgia State University and earned a BA in journalism in 1992. She then turned to medical writing, working primarily for the CDC as a contracted communications specialist.
Judi, a lifelong learner, returned to school years later, after reaching “retirement” age. In 2012, she earned her second bachelor’s degree, this time from Clayton State in 2012. It was a bachelor’s degree in nursing. His goal was to update his medical credentials and learn about the latest clinical trends.
At 69, she was the oldest graduate in the history of the Clayton State University School of Nursing.
As a freelance health care journalist, Judi began writing articles for Georgia Health News in 2013. She also wrote for Atlanta Senior Life and other publications.
An enthusiasm for the truth … and fun.
For the past decade, Judi participated in AHCJ health journalism conferences and local Atlanta chapter meetings, often accompanied by Barry, who was her proofreader and occasional personal photographer.
Jeanne Erdmann, AHCJ board member and chair of its Self-Employed Committee, said that during Judi’s work on the committee, “her gracious demeanor and enthusiasm moved many of our projects forward.”
“I can speak for all the members of our committee when I say that we value their kindness and the smile that always seemed to be there,” Erdmann said. “We will miss her very much. I hope she knew what it was worth. Judi certainly meant a lot to us. “
Former AHCJ CEO Len Bruzzese recalled Judi’s dedication. “Judi was such a devoted member of the AHCJ,” he said. “He was on our local planning committee for our magnificent 2012 Atlanta conference, participated in local chapter meetings, helped younger members, and served on the National Independent Committee, always with a smile and a friendly word.” .
In 2019, Judi was awarded a fellowship in geriatric medical writing from the Gerontological Society of America. She proved her worth in this area, writing stories about mobility devices, mental health challenges, and the risks of falls for the elderly.
Fellow health journalist Katja Ridderbusch said: “Judi loved the AHCJ – the learning opportunities, the exchange of ideas, the camaraderie of the health care journalists. She would never miss an annual conference or a local chapter meeting. ”
“I remember sliding down the icy roads of Cleveland in April 2016, and a year later, we ran for shade in the garden of our Orlando conference hotel. I remember we were sitting on the floor in a Phoenix conference room waiting for our slots at the indie release festival, laptops on our laps, frantically making last minute changes and laughing desperately because we were always late and we were always nervous and In the end, it would always work out well. ”
“Judi took her reporting seriously, and probably one of the most ethical journalists I have ever met. She was competitive only with herself and the most generous to share, from ideas and story sources to contact information for editors. ”
Ridderbusch remembers Judi as an adventurer who was always curious about people, places, and “backstories.”
“She was happiest when she and Barry embarked on cross-country trips in their RV. From the road, he often sent them selfies in quirky places, with hearty food and original drinks. Sometimes he would even ride the motorhome to an AHCJ conference, turning a business trip into an expedition. ”
In addition to her husband, Barry, Judi is survived by her daughters Karen Kanne Ngowe and April Kanne Donnellan; son-in-law Paul Donnellan; grandchildren Athieno and Yosef Ngowe; and Claire and Sophie Donnellan.
Some of Judi Kanne’s work for Georgia Health News: