Judy Allen Obituary, Death – At the time of her passing on November 25th, 2022, Judith “Judy” Novak Allen was at Oaknoll in Iowa City, Iowa, with her husband Eddie by her side. She was the first child of Steve Novak and Julia Novak and was born in East St. Louis, Illinois. Judy began her dance training at the age of 3 and a half, and she never stopped dancing throughout her life. She received her elementary and junior high education from Catholic schools in the East St. Louis area. After moving with her family to Marshalltown, Iowa, she completed her secondary education at St. Mary’s High School. She was a cheerleader, the prom queen, and the choreographer for Amal and the Night Visitors while she was a student at St. Mary’s.
She started out at Iowa State Teachers College for one year before transferring to the University of Oklahoma, where she eventually earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Modern Dance. Judy was involved in a wide variety of activities pertaining to the Modern Dance concert dance. After that, Judy pursued further education in dance at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, where she graduated with a Master of Fine Arts degree in Modern Dance. She tied the knot with C. E. “Eddie” Allen in the Main Post Chapel at Fort Bragg, North Carolina in 1970, and this past June, the couple celebrated their 52nd wedding anniversary. The wedding took place in 1970.
Judy began her career as a teacher, choreographer, and administrator of dance in higher education in 1972 when she accepted a position at the University of Iowa in Iowa City. She remained there for the next 35 years. Beginning her career as a teacher of modern dance in the Women’s Physical Education Department, she remained in that position for 15 years before being promoted to the position of Full Professor of Dance at the University of Iowa. After working at the University of Iowa, Judy moved on to the University of Hawaii at Manoa, then she moved on to George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, and finally she became the Department Chair at California State University at Long Beach before retiring and moving back to Iowa City, Iowa. All of these stops were made after Judy had worked at the University of Iowa.
Throughout her career, Judy has held the position of tenured Full Professor at each and every institution that she has worked for. She was a brilliant choreographer who was always willing to include a “cast of thousands” in her dances in order to give her students the opportunity to perform in major concerts. She was a pioneer in the field. Her time spent in Iowa produced some of her most notable works, including “That All American Game” and “Swing, Swing, Swing,” both of which she notated and distributed to dance departments all over the country. She worked in conjunction with her fellow employees in the music and dance departments to contribute to the production of “Lemon Cinders” and other significant works for the Dance Galas held in Hancher Auditorium.
While she was a student at the University of Hawaii, she collaborated with Music Professor Armand Russell and 25 local married couples who had been together for at least 25 years to compose a piece called “The Anniversary Waltz” for the Kennedy Center’s 25th anniversary season. An amazing college dance concert came to a close with a spectacular performance that stole the show. In her roles as Treasurer, Vice President, and President of the American College Dance Festival, Judy contributed to the expansion of that organization’s presence and prestige across the country. Judy also served on the board of directors of the American College Dance Festival.
Judy was a huge fan of the theater scene in Chicago, as well as musicals, Broadway, and the West End in London. We traveled whenever we had both the time and the means to do so. She had a great following of “kids of all ages” (seniors, of course) who took her tap classes after getting off to a sluggish start at the Iowa City Senior Center, where she taught tap dancing. She adored tap dancing. On top of all of that, she had a passion for traveling; she went on a cruise with Garrison Keillor’s group all over Europe and traveled all over the United States to see friends and family. Judy was a really good bowler back in her day, she had a passion for playing bridge, and in Las Vegas, she enjoyed both the shows and the casinos.
Her husband Eddie, her brother Gary Novak and his wife Michelle, both of Marshalltown, Iowa, and the rest of her family are the only ones who will remember her. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made to the Percussion Ensemble of the University of Iowa School of Music, the Cancer Center at the University of Iowa, the Iowa City Hospice, or the Iowa City Senior Center. A memorial service will be held at a later date, and details about it will be shared when they become available. The family is being assisted by the Gay & Ciha Funeral and Cremation Service, which can be found online at www.gayandciha.com.