The Inner Beauty of Ocala’s Judy Dunlap

Born of humble beginnings, Judy Dunlap has found serenity in charity, utilizing the wealth she and her husband have amassed in their lifetime to improve the lives of others.

Judy Dunlap has found meaning in life by using the blessings bestowed upon her to help the lives of others. Years ago, upon her first annual visit to her hometown of Eau Claire, Wis., the Dunlap Cancer Center, built in memory of her mother partnered with the Mayo Clinic, invited her to tour the facility. She was escorted by the entrance of the chemotherapy area when an administrator thought it might be disruptive to enter during patient treatments. Suddenly, a nurse of short stature rushed to the door and beckoned them in. Several patients recognized Judy from a portrait in the lobby, which caused an outcry by all for Judy to enter. They wanted to thank her personally. Judy was moved to tears.

“For a little girl from humble beginnings to be involved in a project of this magnitude has thrilled me to no end, because it services not only people of my community, but the northwestern part of the state of Wisconsin,” Judy said. Gifts to the Mayo Clinic exceed $5 million.

Judy Dunlap was born in Eau Claire, Wis. to humble beginnings. She was raised by her parents with her two siblings in a four-room apartment and was educated there. She became a bank executive for nine years, before Al Dunlap came into her life in 1967. They were married in 1968 and as Judy says, “life has never been dull since.”

Together, they lived in 17 states and three countries. They traveled extensively around the world. One of the highlights of their world travel was a four-week international speaking tour with Soviet Union President Mikhail Gorbachev and his wife, Raisa, and General Norman Schwarzkopf and his wife, Brenda.

“I have had a fascinating life meeting many people around the world,” Judy said. Among those people are Prince Charles and Princess Diana, Margaret Thatcher, President Ronald Reagan, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, Arnold Palmer, Rush Limbaugh, Donald Trump, Lord Jacob Rothschild, Sir James Goldsmith, and Kerry Pascker, Australia’s richest man, the latter two whom her husband, Al, ran their empires.

“This past year, I was honored to give the commencement address to the students at Florida State University and humbled to receive an honorary doctorate degree in Human Letters,” Judy said. Judy was instrumental in building a 50,000-square-foot. Student Career Success Center at Florida State, a center where they teach leadership and community service. The third level of the building contains workshop rooms with the latest video equipment to prepare the students for their interviews when job recruiters visit on campus.

In September, Al and Judy Dunlap will dedicate the new Albert J. Dunlap Indoor Training Facility, a 90,000-square-foot building at Florida State University.

“I, along with my husband, gave the lead gift to build this center,” Judy said. “To date, we have given Florida State $15 million.”

Her generosity extends to Ocala/Marion County as well. Together with her husband, Judy purchased and donated three German Shepherd dogs to the Marion County Sheriff’s Canine Unit. People who know her know the great love that Judy has for the breed. She has owned German Shepherds for 40 years and what she loves about them most is their courage, intelligence and loyalty. Those are the traits she looks for in her personal friends.

Judy has devoted herself to animal shelters around the country. The Dunlaps  own a 100-acre farm where they house rescued animals – 75 at the present time. The Dunlaps have made arrangements so that all of them will live out their lives on the farm. “They are provided the best food, medical care and lots of TLC,” Judy said. “It is amazing how these animals , who have been mistreated, come back to life – just like human beings do.”

Children are important to the Dunlaps as well. Earlier this year, Judy and Al Dunlap donated a state-of-the-art scoreboard to Trinity Catholic High School. Every year, Judy and Al host a Christmas party for 100 underprivileged children of Marion County.

“It is truly an amazing day,” Judy said. It begins with entertainment, food and gifts, followed by a visit from Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus. “When the children arrive in the morning, they look so sad and downtrodden. When they leave in the afternoon, they have a smile from ear to ear, and it really warms our hearts to do something for these children.”

She also was instrumental in starting an education foundation for underprivileged children in northwestern Wisconsin.

“Through God’s blessings, hard work and perseverance, we have the resources at this time to give back to society, as we choose to do,” Judy said. “To be able to help sick people, animals that have been abused and abandoned and education for children is truly a thrilling thing for me.”

Her spirit of generosity for those in need is a blessing for many.               

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