Retired Southampton Nurse Judy Ruland Browngardt Remembered as Eternal Optimist

Judy Ruland Browngardt
Judy Ruland Browngardt

Judy Ruland Browngardt sadly died from dementia on September 3. She was born on April 11, 1944 to Stanley and Anne Ferme Ruland in Copiague and had two older siblings, Anthony and Grace Mirabella.

Growing up on Grove Avenue in Patchogue, just blocks away from the Great South Bay, she recalled a childhood with many pets and neighborhood friends, spending time crabbing and clamming with her dad and Uncle William. Despite losing both parents at a young age, Browngardt remained a strong optimist, fueled by a friendly, energetic spirit that emerged at an early age and remained with her throughout her life.

After graduating from Patchogue High School in 1961, Browngardt studied at Pilgrim State Nursing School, where she received a degree in registered nursing. Her first job was in the nursery, caring for newborns where she shined and developed a love for children.

She met Robert Browngardt, a Navy Petty Officer Second Class from Sag Harbor, and they married in 1966. After a decade of living in Navy housing on both coasts, they settled in Sag Harbor in 1976 to raise their five children: Carl, Thomas, Katie, Anne and Peter.

Her children recalled the years growing up on Long Beach Lane in Noyac as a nonstop bustle of creative endeavors from shooting Super-8 horror movies, rehearsing for a Pierson musical or hours of competitive adventures in wooded lots.

Browngardt was a mother who encouraged fun, high hopes and over-sized dreams, always ready to help as a seamstress, caterer or extra. She never missed her daughters’ basketball or field hockey games and was sure to photograph all of her children’s milestones. She loved the holidays; Halloween and Christmas were big in her house, filled with hours of shopping, decorating and baking.

While raising her five children, Browngardt returned to nursing, working for 20 years at the Southampton Care Center, where she made lifelong friends. Her loving nature and deep faith led her to volunteer for over two decades at the St. Andrew’s religious education program, where she taught first-graders.

Upon retiring in 2007, Judy traveled and devoted time to her 10 grandchildren: Alex, Carly, Charlie, Luis, Judi, Elizabeth, Zachary, Felix, Ollie and Zuzu. Family meant everything to Browngardt, and she never tired of talking about each one of them. Her family gatherings were highlighted by trays of her legendary baked ziti bubbling with homemade sauce.

Her generosity, sense of humor and loving spirit will be missed by all who knew her.

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