In memoriam: Missionary emeritus Judy Earlene Bergstrom Gary, 74

Judy Earlene Bergstrom Gary, 1947-2022
IMB Photo

Judy Earlene Bergstrom Gary, an International Mission Board missionary emeritus who shared the gospel in Guadeloupe, died March 23, 2022. She was 74.

Judy was born Aug. 9, 1947, in Clovis, New Mexico, to the late Herbert and La Wanna Bergstrom. Her father was a pastor. She graduated from high school in Clovis and attended Wayland Baptist University, Plainview, Texas. She met her husband, Alvin Gary, during her first year there, and they were married on Jan. 20, 1967. They adopted Jonathan in 1971 when he was three days old. Timothy was born in 1974, and Carol completed the family when she was adopted in 1985.

According to her family, Judy had a gift for connecting with people, which first became evident at Oak Knoll Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas, where she worked with Al as youth director. It continued in a two-year ministry to First Baptist Church, Evant, Texas.

Judy wrote when seeking missionary appointment that Al had committed his life to missions before they were engaged, but she thought that feeling would pass. Al finally told her he was going to the mission field with or without her. “In other words,” she wrote, “God’s will was more important than I.”

She reached the decision that she would gladly go anywhere with Al. After they were married, she experienced God’s call and determined, “I can say wherever, whatever, I’m ready, willing, and eager to go.”

Her family said that while in the United States, Judy influenced many people who called her mentor and friend. Then she did it all over again in another language after the Foreign Mission Board (now International Mission Board) appointed the Garys in 1972 as missionaries to Guadeloupe.

They studied the French language in Tours, France, before arriving in Guadeloupe in 1973. Their missionary career spanned 36 years before they retired in 2009.

Judy and Al spent a nine year “retirement” as pastor and wife of the International Christian Fellowship, Lubbock, Texas. A Chinese young man wrote: “I had been in Lubbock for two years and my life was very monotonous. Then I met Judy Gary, who sat across the table from me at an international lunch and started a happy conversation with me. Knowing Judy and Al and the ICF has brought color into my life and shown me who Jesus is.” During this time, Judy, at the age of 58, graduated cum laude from Texas Tech University with a major in French.

She was preceded in death by her son by miscarriage and her daughter Carol.

Judy is survived by her husband of 55 years, Al; her son Jonathan (Emily); her son Tim (Tonya); and seven grandchildren. She also is survived by her second mother, Sue Bergstrom; her brother, Mark Bergstrom; and sisters Rhonda Holtz, Dawn Boney and Darinda Rupp.

A memorial service was held April 2, 2022, at Bacon Heights Baptist Church, Lubbock.

Donations in her memory may be made to the Lottie Moon Offering, IMB, 3806 Monument Avenue, Richmond, VA 23230, or online at Generosity Resource Center – IMB Generosity.

Read an obituary here.