Cover photo for Judith Marsha (Bowlus)  Bye's Obituary
Judith Marsha (Bowlus)  Bye Profile Photo

Judith Marsha (Bowlus) Bye


Judith (Judy) Marsha Bye, age 83, passed away peacefully on Oct. 22, 2023, in Kalamazoo, MI. In the days before her death, she enjoyed the company of family and friends as she said her goodbyes.

Judy was born in Effingham, IL to William and Helen (Trebilcock) Bowlus. Soon afterward, her father, a mining engineer, moved the family to Hibbing, MN. They lived in a mining location perched on the edge of the Hull Rust Mine where the windows and dishes would shake when the miners were blasting. After several other moves, including Iron Mountain and Houghton, MI, the family returned to Hibbing when Judy was in 7th grade, and she completed high school there.

She went on to attend Suomi College in Hancock, MI and Concordia College in Morehead, MN, majoring in elementary education. Along with three friends, they all found teaching jobs in the farming community of Kenyon, MN. It was there that she met and married her first husband, David Voxland. They had a daughter, Cheryl, but soon divorced. She moved back to her parent’s home in Hibbing with her infant daughter and was hired to teach fifth grade in Hibbing.

When her daughter was 7, she married Carl Bye and continued to grow in her career. She went to summer school at the University of Minnesota and obtained her certificate to teach children with learning disabilities. She earned her master’s degree by attending night school at the University of Minnesota, Bemidji. And while her second marriage also ended in divorce, Judy remained strong and never stopped challenging herself. Near the end of her 30-year career she rose to the position of administrator.

Judy dearly loved her daughter, Cheryl, and would often tell her friends how proud she was of her. She also enjoyed life-long friendships – close cousins from Michigan, friends from college, her Hibbing bridge group, and fellow teachers. She was very family centered and spent many holidays with family in Michigan and summers with her parents, daughter, and nieces at the family cabin on Lake Vermillion, and then at South Sturgeon. She was a caretaker to her aging parents and after the death of her father, she and her mother moved to the Kalamazoo area to enjoy her retirement. Judy joked, “We moved south, and it is warmer here.”

In retirement, she had more time to pursue some new passions. She loved cruise ships (“going cruising”) and traveled with another retired teacher to the Caribbean, Europe and the Mediterranean, Alaska, Hawaii, and around the tip of South America. Her last cruise was to the British Isles with her special friend, Don Sly.

Judy also found a new passion in quilting. After attending a Log Cabin Quilters Show, she joined two quilting clubs and met new friends while creating many extraordinary quilts. Through those connections she discovered StoryPoint (formerly The Fountains) and moved into the retirement community in 2013. Her apartment was filled with many beautiful and meaningful treasures – antique furniture, antique glass decorations, paintings, and of course, quilts. She also loved clothes, and the outfits she wore to the resident dining room always attracted compliments. When her daughter, Cheryl, would come to visit from Chicago, they always made sure to check out the latest sales at Talbots and then go out for a delicious dinner – usually shrimp.

In her last week, the palliative care team remarked that Judy continued to teach lessons. As she was a strong woman (some might say stubborn), she frankly expressed her wishes and made them understand that a person was more than a medical condition to be cured/fixed. Rather, healing comes from listening and supporting the desires of the patient. The family wishes to acknowledge the extraordinary care and compassion shown by the staff at Bronson Hospital as well as the outstanding team of private care givers who helped her remain in her beautiful independent living apartment.

Judy was preceded in death by her parents and her brother, Robert (Bob) Bowlus. She is survived by her beloved daughter, Cheryl Bye and husband, Christopher Rutt, in Chicago; beloved niece, Linda Kozacki, and husband, Jeffrey, in Kalamazoo; beloved niece, Elaine Gartland, and husband, Chuck, in Niles, MI, along with grand-nieces/nephews and cousins.

A celebration of Judy’s life will take place at 11:00 am on Thursday, Nov. 2 at StoryPoint Kalamazoo located at 1700 Bronson Way in Kalamazoo, MI.

Judy and her daughter shared a love of cats. Memorial contributions may be made in Judith’s honor to your favorite animal shelter. To view Judy’s personalized guest book, please visit

To order memorial trees in memory of Judith Marsha (Bowlus) Bye, please visit our tree store.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Celebration of Life

Thursday, November 2, 2023

Starts at 11:00 am (Eastern time)

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