Joni's Longtime Executive Assistant Judy Announces Retirement

  • By: Joni and Friends
  • Aug. 19, 2013
  • In the Media

Judy and Joni Judy and Joni

Joni Eareckson Tada and the Joni and Friends Board of Directors announced today that Judy Butler, Joni’s longtime executive assistant, is to retire after 35 years of service at Joni and Friends. “Judy has been with me since day one, always ready and willing to serve in whatever capacity she was needed,” Joni said. “I am going to miss having her right outside my office, but I am confident in what we both believe and trust is God’s perfect timing.”

Born in England in 1940, trained as an R.N. and midwife, Judy came to know the Lord in 1963. Looking to understand more about her new life in Christ, she began working for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) in London in 1965 and accepted their invitation to come to the U.S. in 1967. While serving in different capacities in many crusades under team member Charlie Riggs, she met Joni in Michigan in 1976, while responsible for hosting speakers at Mr. Graham’s Detroit Crusade. In 1977, the BGEA film-making entity, World Wide Pictures, began plans to produce the movie “Joni,” requiring Joni to be in Burbank for six months. Her family was unable to leave their home responsibilities, so with Joni’s approval, Judy was asked to assist. It was thought she would be the perfect fit with both administrative and healthcare training. “I ‘just happened’ to be available to serve in that capacity, at that time,” Judy said.

Joni’s artwork, her bestselling autobiography, Joni, published in 1976, and the media coverage of her testimony had generated so much correspondence that both her art representation company and her publisher found themselves overwhelmed. In addition, many individuals, families, churches and ministries were seeking to better understand and practice the theology of suffering Joni’s testimony made visible – especially recognizing the needs of those affected by disability. She realized the future release of the movie in 1978 would generate even more interest and response. “It seemed God was to use Joni in a much broader and deeper capacity than she could have envisioned,” Judy said. “But as she and I agreed at the time, it became a question of not deciding to start a ministry, but being afraid not to!” In 1979, the decision was prayerfully made to begin the ministry Joni and Friends, and Judy’s experience setting up local crusade offices for the Billy Graham team served her well in helping this new ministry dedicated to helping other families with disabilities. Judy has since been much more than an executive assistant to Tada, providing personal assistance, as well as accompanying her on ministry trips throughout the U.S. and to more than 46 countries.

Judy says, “It’s been an amazing 35 years serving alongside Joni and after 50 years in ministry I’m looking forward to seeing and enjoying what God has next in mind!” 

Please leave Judy your well-wishes!


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The Center was not the same without you after my recent visit in May! You have done much to deserve a wonderful retirement and I know we will meet again if not in this world then in the next:)
  • June 11, 2014
  • 12:42 a.m.
  • Tim Swauger
Dear Judy, When Joni came to Boston to speak at Park Street Church that is the time that I had the pleasure of speaking with you.We also ate at the Parker House and after the meal we all walked up out together to get a good night sleep. Judy ,fun to see you in the big eye glasses ,I still have mine. I am rejoicing in the plans that God has for you in your senior years that they will be time rest and discovery. I thank you for being a faithful friend to joni all these years. Joy in Jesus Hope
  • Nov. 20, 2013
  • 4:36 p.m.
  • Hope Noe
Thank you Judy for all that you have done in your ministry. I know an 80 plus year old retired RN that is living in the UK. Please pray for her. Her name is Pam and she is not a believer, but would love to overcome her unbelief and have the love of Christ in her heart.
  • Sept. 9, 2013
  • 1:09 a.m.
  • Tony
God bless you, Judy, and thank you for being Joni's companion for all these years. The two of you are part of each other even when you are apart.
  • Aug. 31, 2013
  • 3:37 p.m.
  • Rachel
Judy, it was a pleasure meeting you and working with you. Praising God for your service and praying for your healing! Thank you for all you have done for this world!
  • Aug. 27, 2013
  • 11:29 p.m.
  • Dana Ritter
Judy, i remember the many times i saw you with Joni...all those meetings when we were starting up the Dallas-FtWorth are so very "special" to me and literally THOUSANDS around the world...God's "blessings" in this new arena for your life..Love and Prayers, Larry & Ellen, your "Texas Family" oni.....
  • Aug. 26, 2013
  • 4:47 a.m.
  • Ellen Dibler is wonderful to see how the Master has blessed you with not only with a career, not only a key role in a compassion ministry that has touched thousands but also a friendship as a trusted confidant....a friendship that will last beyond retirement, into eternity! Thank you for your faithfulness....well-done! May the journey continue to be amazing as you pursue the Master.
  • Aug. 26, 2013
  • 12:30 a.m.
  • Monique Newman
Dear Judy: You are an example of love and commitment to the Lord first and to Joni second, faithfully serving both!! It has been a pleasure meeting you personally on some of the Wheels Trips in which you were there with Joni. May God bless you richly in your retirement!! Love, Veronica
  • Aug. 25, 2013
  • 1:09 p.m.
  • Veronica Hache
What a woman! What a nurse! I think God for your Christian witness. God speed in your life ahead.
  • Aug. 23, 2013
  • 6:56 a.m.
  • Mary Ann
Judy, You are an amazing woman who has laid down her life for God and for Joni. I wish you all the best in your retirement that God would continue to bless you and use you all over or even if its just to relax. God Bless you. With Deep Respect, Nadia Martin
  • Aug. 21, 2013
  • 2:40 p.m.
  • Nadia Martin
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