Meet Judy Ballinger

Meet Judy Ballinger


She’s Called Simpson House Home Since 2021

The fine art of doing what you love

Creative people bring their visions to life. Those dreams might become drawings or paintings—or they might manifest as opportunities for others. Judy Ballinger, a resident of Simpson House since 2021, is creative in all those ways and more.

From a capital city to a mud hut…
Judy was one of the few babies born at Washington’s Walter Reed Army Hospital. She grew up in the DC suburbs of Maryland and Virginia and spent summers in Cape May County, New Jersey. After high school she attended Hood College in Maryland.

“It was my mother’s alma mater, and I wanted to go to a small college that had a fine arts program. At that point, there were not many schools that had art majors,” she says. She earned a degree in art, and then married her first husband, a law student at Columbia. The couple was soon recruited by the Peace Corps to serve in Ethiopia along with a group of other lawyers, MBAs and teachers.

“Because we were specially recruited to work in ministries and teacher programs, all the lawyers were placed in the capital,” Judy recalls. “My experience was living in an international capital city, which is different from most Peace Corps experiences. They put me at the music school, since they did not have any openings in the art school—but I was not musical!”

They loved Ethiopia. After their Peace Corps service ended, Judy’s husband finished his doctoral degree, and then the couple returned to Africa on their own.

“We were there for another three years, living in a mud hut with charcoal burners and carrying the water up from the stream early in the morning,” Judy says. “The mountain scenery was worth the hardship.” Eventually, Judy and her then husband divorced and they went their separate ways.

…to a three-story home built in 1902…
Judy taught in Ethiopia and Sudan, as well as Wisconsin. She moved back East in 2002 when her parents had health issues. After working in DC for a while, she had an opportunity to go to Pendle Hill, a Quaker retreat center in Wallingford, Pennsylvania, not far from Swarthmore. She planned to organize her African drawings and sketches. One day, working in the common area, she saw a large table covered with photographs of Ethiopia taken by Blair Seitz. They became very good friends, but went their separate ways as Judy went to Cape May, NJ to care for her mother. While she was there, she worked at the Center for Community Arts, working with the county archivists on their African American archives and establishing a summer art camp for kids.

A few years later, Judy and Blair reconnected and stayed connected. He moved to New Jersey. In 2010, they married and moved to West Reading—a halfway point between their work connections in Harrisburg and Cape May. They moved into a three-story home built in 1902. Judy got involved in the business community and the art gallery co-op, and still sells some pieces there. But by 2020, the house was bigger than they needed, and the gallery business was changing.

“A lot more was going online, and it didn’t appeal to me,” says Judy. “I was able to hand over some of my duties to younger people. It was time for me to say ‘enough’ and retire.”

…to historic architecture and charming views
They found Simpson House. The location puts them close to Blair’s daughters in Media and Wallingford, and Judy’s daughter in Collegeville. Her other daughter lives in Berkeley, California.

“Even though we lived in a community where I could see neighbors, I could go days without conversations,” Judy says. “Here, it is never a day without several conversations. It was very important to us to live somewhere with racial diversity. I wanted somewhere I could have an art studio or shared space and charming views.”

She loves the historic architecture, and the views of trees and trails from the windows of their two-bedroom apartment. Judy has been instrumental in setting up art rooms that have become very popular among other residents of Simpson House and has offered workshops in different media. She especially loves painting on silk and considers that talent one of her major accomplishments.

She continues her life of creativity, doing what she loves, and says one of the most important lessons she has learned is to “find good in the path you are on, or find a new path.”

Call us today at 215-878-3600 or submit the form below to see for yourself why Judy and other artistic people choose Simpson House for retirement living.


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