Judith Stewart Legacy Fund
Welcome to the Judith Stewart Legacy Fund, a place where we can honor the life and legacy of Judith Claire Litster Stewart and the many gifts she shared abundantly during her lifetime. It is Judith’s legacy of music that we hope will reach far beyond her life, and continue ringing in the lives of many others through her beloved choir, the Valparaiso Singers.
The Valparaiso Singers is a vocal ensemble in the San Francisco Bay Area that seeks to inspire, uplift, and entertain audiences with exceptional choral music, and share our faith in God by serving others through song. The Valparaiso Singers provides a welcoming musical environment for our local and greater Bay Area communities by performing a challenging and dynamic range of sacred and secular choral music that reflects Judeo-Christian values and cultivates the talents of the singers.
By donating to this fund you will help the ensemble continue to sing, giving free performances to communities near and far, and sharing faith through song.
$5,000 and above
$3,000 – $4,999
$1,000 – $2,999
$500 – $999
$250 – $500
$100 – $249
$50 – $99
$10 – $49
About Judith Stewart
Judith Claire Litster was born on October 5, 1939, in the small town of Huntington, Utah, to Errol Thomas and Lyle Wickman Litster. She was the second of three children, with older brother, Allen, and younger brother, Tom. She was born into and raised in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), which gave her a strong spiritual foundation of faith throughout her life. Judith enjoyed an idyllic childhood where she learned to sew, cook, and play the piano and organ. Her father was an exceptional vocalist, and her mother a talented accompanist, so together they performed in their local church congregations and other community events for many years. Perhaps this was the first seed that planted in Judith’s heart, as she would later embark on many of her own musical adventures, bringing thousands of people along for the ride!
Although Judith grew up as a small-town girl, she had big-city dreams, and headed off to San Francisco after graduating from Brigham Young University to pursue a career in fashion merchandising. While in San Francisco, she met the dashing Ralph Stewart at church, and the two soon married and settled down to family life on the peninsula, in Menlo Park. Here Judith and Ralph raised their five children: Leica Stewart Merriam, Kimberley Stewart, Bradley Stewart, Amanda Stewart Morris, and Jonathan Stewart.
Judith was blessed with many talents which she used tirelessly to serve others. Her family and friends lovingly referred to her as the “Energizer Bunny” because she never seemed to need any sleep! In addition to her career as an interior designer, she was a seamstress, a chef and hostess, a floral arranger, an event planner, a hair stylist, a writer and editor, a producer and director, a social worker and counselor, a temple worker, a teacher, a leader, and a student of the gospel of Jesus Christ. But perhaps her most cherished talent, the one that filled her soul till it burst forth from her heart, was her gift of music.
In 1987, her friend, Peter Walman, asked Judith to help him find a small number of select singers to go through some music his mother had written. One Sunday evening, they gathered around the piano at the home of Norris and Mary Finlayson and began to sing. This turned into several Sunday evenings until on November 29, 1987, the “Ensemble” sang their first number in an LDS Sacrament Meeting (a Sunday church worship service) in the Menlo Park Ward (congregation.) Judith was thrilled with the sound this small number of singers created and began plotting with her friend, world-renowned organist James Welch, because she had a feeling this group would go places. And go places they did!
For the next 27 years Judith worked tirelessly, using mostly her own financial resources, to put together program after program for her singers and her audiences. It was a gift she had – choosing just the right piece of music to go in a program, telling a story around a theme, a composer, a region or an era.
Under the name The Valparaiso Singers (named after the street in Menlo Park where they rehearsed), the ensemble sang up and down the peninsula, in the East Bay, and beyond. Venues included Saint Mark’s Episcopal Church in Palo Alto; Saint Mary’s Cathedral in San Francisco; the Christmas Crèche exhibit in Palo Alto; the LDS Church on Valparaiso Avenue; various other LDS chapels; Santa Barbara; and Carmel.
In addition to these local venues, the Valparaiso Singers went on tour! They sang in places such as Salt Lake City’s Assembly Hall at Temple Square; Carnegie Hall in New York City; and a humanitarian concert tour of Russia in 2000. As if this weren’t enough, she also partnered with two former conductors of the world-famous Mormon Tabernacle Choir, Jerold Ottley and Craig Jessop, to host several community-based Interfaith Choral Workshops at the LDS Menlo Park chapel.
In 27 years, the ensemble performed over 25 Easter Concerts, 21 Crèche programs, 15 Fall concerts and 23 other performances that she fit in somehow. All in all, the Valparaiso Singers gave over 85 concerts under Judith’s baton. They performed the choral works of some of the great composers, including Mendelssohn’s Elijah, Mozart’s Requiem, Faure’s Requiem, Verdi’s Requiem, Bach’s St. Mathew’s Passion, Brahms’ Requiem, Handel’s Messiah, and Rutter’s Mass of the Children.
In her “spare” time, Judith collaborated with her church friend, Joleen Steck, to gather members of their congregation and perform classic Broadway musicals such as South Pacific, Dames at Sea, She Loves Me, Brigadoon, George M., Snoopy, and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat.
Cleary, Judith Stewart’s greatest legacy is her music, a gift that has touched and blessed the lives of thousands of people across the U.S. and even Russia! We hope you will consider making a donation to help us continue this tremendous legacy of music, and keep the Valparaiso Singers singing for many years to come as they offer this gift of music to new audiences near and far, in honor of Judith.
The Family of Judith Stewart
“Requiem” by Gabriel Fauré
- Leica Stewart Merriam
- Kimberley Stewart
- Amanda Stewart Morris
CharitySmith accepts donations in two ways:
Judith Stewart Legacy Fund
CharitySmith Nonprofit Foundation
13100 Filly Lane
Truckee, CA 96161
Use credit card by clicking the link below:
The above Memorial Fund is established as a division of CharitySmith Nonprofit Foundation (EIN 87-0636433). All donations are tax deductible in accordance with federal tax law. Receipts for tax purposes are sent via US Mail within two weeks of donation. Please consider asking if your employer participates in a gift-matching program. If so, your donation may be matched by your employer. For questions regarding your donation or this memorial fund please contact CharitySmith.