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Tuesday, July 5, 2022


Judy Grybowski is retiring after 31 years on the faculty of UVI as a professor of nursing. The number of years alone is significant but that doesn't begin to tell the story.
Many tears were shed during her retirement celebration in May, but none of them were Judy's. Professional to the very last moment, she kept her emotions tightly under control. Nurses, students, faculty, and administrators of boards and agencies from all over the Virgin Islands paid tribute to her for the many significant contributions she has made over those years. The central theme of each tribute was a strong bond of affection and gratitude.
Dr. Kean, UVI President, announced that their feelings are being translated into the establishment of a Judy Grybowski Nursing Scholarship fund. They want to make sure that Judy’s professional dedication and their affection and gratitude make the full circle to provide assistance to even more Virgin Islanders who want to become nurses. The scholarship is a way to keep Judy always at UVI. Donations toward that scholarship can be sent to UVI Foundation, Judy Grybowsky Nursing Scholarship Fund, 2 John Brewer Bay, St. Thomas, VI 00802 Att. Jacky Sprauve. The goal is $10,000. and approximately $2000. has been raised thus far.
It was obvious that Judy was not yet fully aware of what ‘retirement' really means. A large part of her very big heart will always be definitely in the students, faculty and activities at UVI.
Her smile remained intact while speaker after speaker remarked that they expected her to ‘come around,' ‘ help out from time to time,' ‘continue to lend her wisdom' and several even suggested that now that she was retired she would have more time to give to a particular involvement.
Her husband, Kirk, could be heard occasionally objecting to such comments and at the end of the evening, he announced, "You are not losing a professor, I am gaining a wife."
This is definitely a very special woman who will not be easy to replace or soon forgotten. In 1968, Judy and her husband, Kirk arrived on St. Thomas with two small sons, professional degrees and considerable experience for persons so young. Kirk says they had a vague idea of what life would be like from several friends who had tried living here and they just never looked back.
Reading their long bios, it becomes obvious that they were too involved in their work and community activities to give any other life a second thought.
Kirk developed the Emergency Medical Services for the V.I. in his work for the Department of Health and directed VITEMA during Marilyn and Bertha.
Judy was an assistant professor of the Associate Nursing Degree Program at UVI from 1968- 1982. She served as chair of the Nursing Department from 1982-1985 and 1989-1992. She also chaired the first accreditation committee to move into a Baccalaureate Nursing Program. In 1985 she became an associate professor and was responsible for rebuilding the nursing library with grants from the Hulene Fuld Foundation.
One speaker told how he listened to his wife, a former student of Judy's, talk about ‘Judy this and Judy that' as if this women were some huge energy force making incredible demands that must, really must, be met at all times. When he met Judy, he was surprised to find this little woman who didn't look at all ominous.
Repeatedly, her former students talked about her tremendous ability to motivate, her high standards and professionalism and most of all her support, telling them in a hundred ways that they could do all these things she was demanding. And they did and obviously they still feel very, very good about themselves as a result. They also have wonderfully strong and positive feelings about Judy.
Judy has done significant research, written several publications and contributed greatly to the field of nursing. She and Kirk traveled to Swaziland, South Africa, with a USAID project in 1978 where she served as nurse educator in the Institute of Health Sciences. She also consulted in Rehabilitative Nursing at the Spinal Cord Unit at Veterans' Hospital, San Juan, Puerto Rico, from 1974-78.
In 1987 she earned her doctorate in educational administration from the University of Illinois. She was a consultant of health sciences for the Kellogg Foundation in 1992 in Swaziland. She supervised the transfer of the Associate Nursing Degree Program to the St. Croix campus.
In the community life of St. Thomas, Judy is just as well known. Sons Keith and Paul went to school and grew up here. Judy was a charter member of the League of Women Voters. She handled the publicity for the Rolex Sailboat Race Regatta and the St. Thomas Yacht Club from 1988-97. Since 1984 she has worked with the Victim Advocates Program as a counselor and treasurer on the board. She is also on the Board of Directors of the Jones-Halloway-Bryan Foundation of St. Thomas.
She and Kirk are members of the Gypsy Carnival Troupe and the Caribbean Chorale. Many persons are under the impression that they also run a bed and breakfast. Over the years their home has sheltered and fed newcomers to the island, persons in need after a storm or personal crisis and many lasting friends, no matter how recently the acquaintance.
Some say that the Grybowskys are a dying breed in the Virgin Islands — persons who came here and truly became a part of the community and made incredible contributions to life in the islands as we know it today.
They certainly serve as models that more ‘came heres' could emulate and ‘born heres' will attest can become ‘part of the family.' We are glad to hear that they will continue to live and participate in the community of St. Thomas.

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