It was a friendship that was formed more than 40 years ago, when two young mothers — neighbors — banded together to make their neighborhood safer by getting a commercial business and their trucks out of their neighborhood.
That was when I first met Judy Baar Topinka, and ours became a fast and longtime friendship. Her son, Pepi, was the same age as our Tina and two years younger than our Michael. Our children made the friendship even stronger.
We talked almost daily about everything, sharing views more than recipes and the kids were either here or there. Mrs. Topinka was another “mom” on the block. We kept the kids busy riding their big wheels, swimming or playing in the sandbox.
In the fall we watched as they built leaf forts, in the winter there were snowmen. Summer evenings were when the Topinkas or the Koseys took a car load of neighborhood children to town for ice cream. We then would walk each other back and forth home the short distance between our houses. As couples we shared many fun times.
Judy and I were in Riverside Juniors together, working together for common causes through the organization; she always had boundless energy. It was obvious she wanted to serve with no ulterior motives, which is how she continued through her public life. What you saw was what she was.
As friends we talked often but our lives got busier. The Topinkas got divorced and moved from Selborne Road. The children were in school and we didn’t see each other as often. Judy went to work and became involved in politics statewide, while I became involved locally.
We supported each other, which meant sometimes crossing party lines. Our lives had many parallels, since both our parents lived on Selborne. She wrote for the Life Newspaper, so did I. She was with the Landmark, I still am. I ran for the high school board, she ran for statewide offices.
We still connected, with Judy sending me things when there were milestones in my life or my family’s lives or something she thought I would like. We even consoled each other when we lost our pets. The last time we spoke was on Election Day, complaining to each other about having cellulitis.
My friend is gone now and I will miss her, as will many. But she went out a winner. I think I knew that over 40 years ago when we first met. She was someone special and was a force in my life. Yeah, she should have been elected governor; she would have been a good one and an honest one.