Fluvanna Faces: Judy Fish

By Madeline Otten


Where do you live?

My husband and I have a country mouse/ city mouse life—we have a home at Lake Monticello and an apartment near the Pentagon.

How long have you lived in Fluvanna? What brought you here?

We bought our retirement (happy place) home at Lake Monticello seven years ago. We were weekenders for a couple years until I started working as the Lake Monticello Owners’ Association’s communication director more than four years ago. We love that the area is beautiful and rural, yet has Charlottesville, Richmond and DC nearby. We also love living on the Lake and boating to see friends. Life is sweet here.


Tell us about your family.

My husband, Tony, and I have been married 35 years.  He retired from the Army as a colonel after 32 years of service and still works in the Pentagon as a government employee. Our daughter, Kelsey, is 28 and also works in the Pentagon for the Navy in the communications division.  Our son, Cory, is 27 and is an Army captain serving in Hawaii as a Blackhawk pilot (his dad was a Blackhawk pilot too).   Cory and his wife, Jess, just welcomed our first grandchild two months ago—Alden Blake Fish.  We are a family that likes to serve.


What did you want to be when you were growing up?

I always wanted to be a reporter.  I started a newspaper in my fifth-grade class!  I got a degree in news editing and public relations and worked for newspapers and in radio.

What was your very first job?

I worked at a tiny AM radio station as an on-air personality with zero training and it showed!  My dad said he would cry for me I was so bad!  I learned on the job and would love to do some radio again—I don’t think I will make dad cry now!  I later worked for larger stations in California and Alabama.

What do you do for a living?

I am currently in my last couple of weeks as the communications director at Lake Monticello.  I want to do some writing. I started “playing” with a blog before I went to work for the Lake.  I will get back to that and write a book about my dad—and maybe a Lake tell all!  (just kidding!) My blog: https://judythefish.blogspot.com/

What is one of your pet peeves?

I do not like when people are unkind to others. I just don’t get it.  Being loving, costs nothing and pays a huge reward.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

Boat, float and read.  Tony and I also love to dance. I have an antiques booth in Gordonsville and I use it as an excuse to go to estate and yard sales—and Goodwill!

Books or movies? Why?

Oh, both!  I am in two book clubs and have an idea about another one I would love to start. But there is something about movies…love them!  Now with reclining seats and refillable ice tea, it’s a little slice of escapist heaven!

Favorite book/series? Favorite movie?

I loved the Nancy Drew series as a kid and now collect vintage copies. Later I discovered Lawrence Sanders’ Deadly Sins series. I really enjoyed those too. I like that my dad and I read them together—in different states.  It was like our own father/ daughter long- distance book club. We still share book titles to read.

Who is your favorite sports team?

This will sound corny, but the Hayfield Hawks—our kids ran cross country and track in high school (Alexandria, Va. and Fort Campbell, Ky.).  I loved cheering them on and being mama Fish to the teams. I don’t enjoy televised sports but love the excitement of any live college or professional game.


What pivotal decision helped to shape your life?

Marrying my husband when I was just 20.  I quit college in California to marry him. I sold my car and bought a one-way ticket to Korea to live with him (even though I was not authorized by the Army to be there). I later graduated college in Alabama.  We lived 10 years overseas—Korea (twice), Germany and the Netherlands. I was a single parent during his multiple combat deployments. I would say marrying Tony Fish was a life changing event and I would not change a minute of it.

Tell us about a way you have changed over the years.

The first answer that pops to mind?  I am older and fatter! But ironically, I am also much more comfortable in my own skin and feel more happy and secure in who I am.  I feel much calmer than I did 20 years ago.  I will feel even calmer when I retire. I hope to work on that fatter part too and get healthier—cannot do anything about the older part, except embrace age as the gift of still living.

What has surprised you about your life?

I often want to pinch myself because my life is pretty darn sweet!  I have an amazing husband and fabulous children, terrific friends, an extended family I love, a house on the water and the opportunity to redefine myself at 55.  Life is good.

What’s one thing you hope to accomplish before you die?

I have to write at least one book.  My family and friends are tired of me saying, “someday I will…” Maybe now is the time.

Tell us about one of your regrets.

I should have spent more time with my mom before she died.  I do not intend to make that mistake again—family first.

Tell us about your proudest moment.

There are two of them—the moments I delivered our two children. I am not an athlete (no surprise to those who know me).  I had two completely natural childbirths. I joked to my husband that if they only gave athletic medals for childbirth, I could be a contender!

The whole rural county is beautiful, but our slice of heaven is Lake Monticello. I love to be on the water.


What is the craziest thing you have ever done in Fluvanna?

Tony and I joined Lakers Mike Feazel, Sue Orr and John and Cindy Stenz and bought an old pontoon boat. We stripped it down to bare bones and created a floating Tiki Bar Boat that we named Pontiki. We had three magical summers on that boat.  It was crazy, fun!  We have all since sold it to John and Cindy Stenz.

What quote or saying do you connect with most? Why do you like it?

My motto is “I refuse to have a bad time.” Happy really is a choice. I choose happy.

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