Judith Burleigh Chase


GARDINER – Judith Anne (Burleigh) Chase of North Monmouth, went to the Lord on Monday, April 6, after a long illness.

Judy was born in Augusta, on May 1, 1930, the youngest of four daughters to Donald Q. and Mary (Johnson) Burleigh. She was the great-granddaughter of Edwin C. Burleigh, a past U.S. senator and governor of Maine.

She was raised in Augusta, and spent happy summers at her family’s camp on Ocean Point. She wrote poetry and short stories, and participated in high school theater. She graduated from Cony in 1948, and was married to Morton Kaplan in that same year. The marriage produced seven children.

In 1967, her marriage to Morton ended, and later she was married to Oliver Wheeler of North Monmouth. She began a career in retail at Sears, volunteered as an emergency medical technician, took in foster children, and made loyal friends wherever she went.

She also explored her faith, and found her salvation in Jesus Christ. She was a familiar fixture at the North Monmouth Community Church .

She appeared in many theatrical productions during the last 20 years. Theater groups she worked with included the Monmouth Players, Gaslight Theater in Hallowell, and ACAT Theater in Waterville.

She created a large family who remain remarkably close-knit and supportive of each other. She died happy at her daughter Becky’s home, surrounded by her noisy and loving family and friends. Her strong faith gave her peace and serenity in her last days, and when she was delivered into the arms of Jesus, she died with the same dignity and faith with which she had lived her life. She was a charming and wise presence, and she will be sorely missed by countless friends and loved ones.

She is survived by her sisters, Mary Jane O’Connor of Hallowell and Nancy B. Catlin of Augusta; her children, Deborah Brestel and husband, Jack, of Sarasota, Fla., Michael Kaplan and wife, Linda, of Clearwater, Fla., Rebecca Colwell of Gardiner, Daniel Kaplan and wife, Penny, of North Monmouth, David Kaplan and wife, Sue, of Augusta, Tamara Kaplan and fiancé, Frank Williams, of Caldwell, Idaho, Steven Kaplan and wife, Kerry, of North Monmouth, stepson, Fred Wheeler and wife, Judy, of Winthrop and stepdaughter, Betty Wykes of Brighton, England; 12 grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren.

She was predeceased by her parents, Donald and Mary; a sister and brother-in-law, Sally and Kenneth Pruett Sr. (who became the brother she never had); brother-in-law, Thomas O’Connor; nephew, Kenneth Pruett Jr.; and nephew James William (Teddy) Catlin.