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Judi and Buddha James
Judi Eckenrode
Judi and Cowher

Looking Out For Animals

Local woman honored through new CFA scholarship fund

While suffering from chronic illnesses for most of her adult life, Judi Eckenrode lived with kindness and grace.

Though she passed away in 2022, her legacy will continue through the Judi Eckenrode Memorial Scholarship at the Community Foundation for the Alleghenies.

The 1983 Cambria Heights High School graduate married her husband, John—a Naval officer—in Pensacola, Florida in 1997. She enjoyed traveling the country as a “Navy wife” during her husband’s 26 year Navy career. After her beloved dog, Cowher, passed away in 2012, Judi devoted her life to animal welfare, especially cats. She worked as a volunteer at animal shelters in Florida and Virginia, fostering dozens of cats and ensuring they were all adopted into loving homes. In order to control overpopulation, Judi taught herself the Trap, Neuter, Release process and trapped numerous feral and stray cats, using her own funding to pay for their surgeries, and released them back into the environment.

In 2014, Judi and John adopted a “foster failure” cat named Buddha James, and he became Judi’s “spirit animal.” During Judi’s final days of life in August of 2022, Buddha James also became ill and crossed the Rainbow Bridge three hours prior to her, ensuring he would be on the other side to greet her.

Judi’s lasting impact on animal welfare will continue on with the provision of scholarship support for senior students from Cambria Heights High School or Bishop Carroll Catholic High School who have a demonstrated history of volunteering with animals, especially those who are pursuing post-secondary education to become a veterinarian or a veterinarian technician.


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