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Personal history: Judy Vigue — the nurse

Judy Vigue grew up in Arrowhead, left when the town was flooded, then spent her career as a nurse in Revelstoke.
Judy Vigue at her favourite haunt — Conversations Coffee House.

Judy Vigue is a ball of fire. Nearly 75 years old, Vigue is known around town as a retired nurse, a painter, pianist, friend and supporter of all things local.

As a child, Judy and her six sibling lived in Arrowhead, coming to Revelstoke in grade nine through 12 for school and heading home on the weekends. Her mother was a trained nurse and Vigue had always known she would become one to.

“I never wanted to be anything else and that was that,” she says.

Her family was supportive. “My parents wanted us to do something after school. Business or nursing or whatever to get an education, so we did.”

Though she was engaged at the time to Bob Vigue, Bob knew better than to try and hold her back. “I went to Royal Inland in Kamloops and graduated as an Registered Nurse. Bob and I married a week after I graduated,” she laughs.

Happily married, Vigue worked as a nurse in the old hospital where Save-On Food is now, and, for a while, the new one. “The old hospital was something else,” she explains. “The men’s ward was this long room with 17 beds. The women’s ward, which was sponsored by the Eastern Stars, had five. It was just the way it was back then.”

The doctors, Vigue says, were wonderful to work with. “There was an unnerving thing about the old hospital though. There was no way to look out when the emergency bell rang at night. So we would open it in pairs.”

Vigue has a lot of great memories from her work in health care. She believes a large part of nursing, and the part she most enjoyed, is the devotion to the people. “Being able to take your time and chat to people, that’s important,” she explains.

The Vigue’s had two children, daughter Renee and their “chosen” son, Rob. “We had Renee and when she was a little girl she was always asking why there were no babies around. The neighbours had babies. She even told her school we were getting a baby. She was so sure of it, and she was right, eventually we did.”

Adopted son Rob was two weeks old when he joined the family. “Just brand new,” Vigue says.

In 2000 her beloved Bob lost his battle with colon and then brain cancer. “Cancer is an awful thing. There isn’t much you can do to help the other than to just be there. Be there and talk and reminisce. I learned that from nursing.”

When Bob passed on, Vigue embarked with several good friends on overseas adventure. “It was a great thing to do,” Vigue says. “And the right time. We went all over.” Vigue used this time of grieving to travel extensively. From Germany to Portugal and Ireland to Greece, Vigue saw the world. “I think Bob would have enjoyed it. I did.”

Now Vigue’s energy is poured into the town, her children and grandchildren. A gifted artist, Vigue’s paintings can be seen in various places around town. There is one painting of the old Arrowhead church up in Conversations. She lived through the hurried flooding of Arrowhead in the 1960s, which forced her family and many friends to find new homes.

“My parents lived in a beautiful home on the hill above the church before they flooded it,” she says. “The flooding happened so fast, I was away for it. There was no mercy.”

An avid member of the Eastern Stars, Vigue is also a talented pianist. “I can play what I hear,” she explains. She frequently plays at her church and every Tuesday Vigue and two friends head up to the Mt. Cartier Court cottages, playing music and chatting to the elderly there.

She was named Citizen of the Year in 2008. and you can find her downtown, catching up with friends and family over coffee. In fact, if you head into Conversations and admire the painted wall mural, the woman in blue with short white hair is an artist’s depiction of Vigue.

Vigue has a laugh when she hears people talk about big snow years. “They should have seen it in the 60's and 70’s” she laughed. “The city would have to pile it in the middle of the street. You had to have your nose on the road to see what was coming.”

You can hear the positivity and energy in Vigue’s voice. She’s spry and active and ready to have a laugh. Her life is filled with good friends and neighbours, and she’s made it that way. “Revelstoke is a good place,” she says. “We’re lucky to be here.”