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Judith Lee Carman dies; retired teacher who traveled world was 74

Retired New York City kindergarten teacher Judith Lee

Retired New York City kindergarten teacher Judith Lee Carman died on Monday, Nov. 16, 2015, at 74.

Judith Lee Carman, retired New York City kindergarten teacher, world traveler and grandmother, died unexpectedly Nov. 16 after a brief illness. She was 74.

Friends and family called her "Judy" and described her as an unstoppable force inspired by a love of learning, family and children.

She would drive her children 45 minutes to grade school and back from their house in West Gilgo Beach, a remote gated community on the South Shore in Babylon Town. She was also a dedicated grandmother, her family said, who would drive three hours and across states to watch a grandchild perform in a show, no matter the size of the role.

"She lost her mother when she was 16 years old, but she always wanted to be a mom we would remember," said her daughter Elizabeth Dennehy, 55, an actress living in Los Angeles. "She always put other people's needs before her own."

Carman had experienced flu-like symptoms last week before going into septic shock. She died at Plainview Hospital.

"She was as strong as an ox and she pushed herself. Eventually to her detriment," said daughter Kathleen Dennehy, 53, of Los Angeles.

Carman taught for 20 years at PS 112 in Harlem and was deeply proud of her students and the impact of early childhood education. She received various degrees, attending college throughout her adult life, from Hofstra University in Hempstead to St. Joseph's College in Patchogue, her daughters said.

Her first husband was screen and stage actor Brian Dennehy. The two were married from 1959 to 1985 and had three daughters.

Standing 4 feet, 10 inches, Carman's personality and her network of friends and family were expansive. She trotted the globe with her second husband, Gregory W. Carman, a senior judge in the U.S. Court of International Trade. They visited every state in the nation, nearly every country in Europe, and most of Africa, South America, Asia and Antarctica.

"She just never stopped moving," said Kathleen Dennehy.

Carman was born May 5, 1941, in Mineola to Muriel and William Scheff. She grew up with her brothers Boyd and Gerard, graduated from Mineola High School in 1959 and attended Hofstra University for one year before leaving to have children. She entered college again in her 40s and continued taking courses -- including a semester at sea -- all of her adult life, her family said.

In addition to her daughters and brothers, Carman is survived by another daughter, Deirdre Basile of Ridgefield, Connecticut; four stepchildren; and 16 grandchildren.

A wake will be held Friday from 1 to 3 p.m. and 6 to 9 p.m. at Arthur F. White Funeral Home, 315 Conklin St., Farmingdale. A funeral Mass is scheduled for Saturday at 10 a.m. at St. Thomas Episcopal Church at 298 Conklin St. in Farmingdale. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Carman's name to The Hagedorn Little Village School in Seaford.

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