Judy Carpenter Schuck walked with a cane for much of her adult life, but she liked to challenge herself.
So when she was in Italy two summers ago she decided to go snorkeling with her granddaughters — at the age of 77.
Two lifeguards in Sestri Levante walked her into the Mediterranean and eased her onto her back. "Almost kind of like a baptism thing," said her daughter, Suzanne Miller.
Schuck adjusted her mask and goggles, swiveled to face down and snorkeled with her granddaughters for a while, then "came out with the biggest smile on her face," Miller said.
Schuck, a tireless reader, learner, traveler and advocate for others, died of cancer at the age of 79.
A former director of disability services at what's now Minneapolis Community and Technical College, she lived in Wayzata.
Her father was a civil engineer for a railroad and she was born in Duluth, then moved to Chicago before the family settled in Robbinsdale when she was in grade school. She graduated from Robbinsdale High School and attended the University of Minnesota, where she earned undergraduate and graduate degrees in education.
She met her husband, Edward Schuck, when they were both counselors at a summer camp, and they eventually settled in Eden Prairie. He was an engineer for Medtronic. The family moved to California where he ran a small medical device company in the late 1970s and early 1980s, and then moved back to Minnesota for good in the mid-1980s. She ultimately earned her doctorate in educational psychology from the U and worked at MCTC until she retired in the 1990s.
Her daughters say "retired" was a word that needed air quotes for Schuck. She had always been quick to take up the cause of anyone she felt was oppressed. That started with children who had learning disabilities, and she became the director of disabled student services at Santa Barbara City College when the family was in California.
"Mom's always been a crusader for others and the rights of others," said Stephanie Glaser, her other daughter.
In California, she enlisted her daughters to march with her for nuclear arms control, "when we were young and it was really embarrassing," Glaser said.
More recently, she relented on her stubborn refusal to use a wheelchair in order to participate in a march against President Donald Trump's immigration policies.
She was involved in St. Luke Presbyterian Church in Minnetonka, chaired the Eden Prairie Human Rights and Diversity Commission and co-founded the Higher Education Consortium on Learning Disabilities.
"We were very fortunate in our lives, and she wanted to give back to others," Miller said. "She would couple her love of learning with her activism."
Schuck was a member of three book clubs, a voracious reader of nonfiction and fiction and a season-ticket holder at the Guthrie Theater. She played cribbage and bridge and often occupied the dining room table with a puzzle.
"You couldn't use the table for a while," Glaser said.
She was diagnosed with renal cancer in 2018, and in October she was told she probably had six months left to live. Her daughters said her calendar was full for the six months, and she never considered leaving Minnesota.
"We both live in Colorado and said, 'Come on out and live here.' But she had too many friends here," Miller said. "She would never move from here."
Schuck was preceded in death by her husband of 53 years, Edward, in 2016. She is survived by her two daughters and four grandchildren.
Funeral services have been held.
Adam Belz • 612-673-4405