Help Me Find Judy Webster

an image of a painting hanging on a stone wall

Pass It On is a new, bi-weekly peek inside the heart and mind of Francis Pass…


Click the play button to listen to Francis Pass tell this story.

My father was a pretty good artist. But I did not inherit his artistic genes.

Just ask Judy Webster.

Mrs. Webster was my incredibly talented high school art teacher.

There was one particular painting of hers that has stuck with me forever. She brought it to class one day to illustrate (no pun intended) symmetry seasoned with story.

It was a painting of her grandmother’s house in Kansas. But it didn’t show the whole house. Just the back door. Not much more.

But, in my mind’s eye, I could see the whole house. And the surrounding prairie.

I was intrigued. And inspired.

I set out to paint a beautiful flower. The stem, the bud, and all the little sprouts. I tried to paint it in a mysterious and interesting way like Mrs. Webster had done with that back door. But even though we were using the same kind of paint and the same brand of brush, I just couldn’t capture the emotion in my painting like she did in hers.

I was a painter. Judy Webster was an artist.

an image of a painting hanging on a stone wall

A few years later, when I was away in Vietnam, I was shocked to receive a letter from Mrs. Webster. You could’ve knocked me over with a feather. I didn’t know that she even remembered me. It’s safe to say I wasn’t one of her star pupils.

I wrote back to tell her how that painting of hers had never left my mind. And I offered to buy it from her.

She really didn’t want to sell it… but, I was a persistent little fella, so I kept on asking.

I guess I got to her. Because, one day, she went to my parents’ house with that painting in tow. Dad gave her 25 dollars and she handed over her work of art.

You’d think I’d be thrilled to finally own my all-time favorite painting from my all-time favorite artist.

But instead of joy… I was overcome with guilt.

I’ve always felt that I pressured her to sell me that painting. And because of that, I’ve never truly felt that it was mine.

an image of a painting hanging on a stone wall

So, today, I’d like to right my wrong.

Do you know Judy Webster?

Can you help me find her?

Mrs. Webster was the art teacher at Dongola high school from 1966 to 1968.

She and her husband lived in Anna. I believe he was a psychiatrist – or maybe he was a phycologist. I always get those mixed up.

I’m hoping someone reading this knows of her whereabouts. Or maybe how I can get in touch with her family.

Will you help me find Mrs. Webster?

I’ve got something that belongs to her. And I’d like to give it back.

Thanks for readin’…

Francis Pass

P.S. – Did you know one of the most difficult things to paint is the human hand? It’s true. Give it a try sometime.

an image of a drawing of a hand