TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Longtime TUSD board member Judy Burns has died at age 63.
Burns, elected to the Tucson Unified School District board in 2000, died of a heart attack, said John Pedicone at an Education Enrichment Foundation luncheon on Thursday.
"Judy's passing is a tragic loss for the district and the Tucson community," said TUSD board president Miguel Cuevas.
Judy burns sat on the Tucson Unified School District governing board. But many know she didn't take challenges sitting down.
"She had no problem shutting someone down if she believed they were being inappropriate or disrespectful. That was Judy, and I believe that was a level of courage that I appreciate," said TUSD superintendent John Pedicone.
"Her actions were right along with what she felt and what she spoke about with the district. She strongly felt that we needed to improve TUSD and make it a better place for all students," Cuevas said.
Elected in 2000, Burns would have run again in 2012. After two years as president of the board, she stepped aside in January. Now her death leaves the five-member board with an open seat as they decide issues from Ethnic Studies to empty schools.
"Judy's service to the district was extremely important and pivoted in the path that we're moving forward," Cuevas said.
"I think it's going to be difficult situation for the board. As you know, the board is split on a number of issues very critical to this community so we need to consider that as we look forward to what we're going to do next," Pedicone said.
The Pima County school superintendent Linda Arzoumanian will either hold an election or make an appointment for burns' seat for the remaining year of her term. She will likely consult the district on what they prefer.
"It'll be the board's decision but I'll encourage the board that an appointment take place because we need five board members. We've got a lot of work to do," Pedicone.
"One of the last things that Judy conveyed to me was her appreciation for our service and that she believed in John Pedicone and the path we're moving forward in," Cuevas said.
Burns was a Detroit native who moved to Tucson in 1973. Her husband, Ben, and two children, John and Mariah, survive her.
Here's her bio, supplied by the district:
KOLD News 13's JD Wallace is getting more information. We'll have the complete story on KOLD News 13 at 4, 5 & 6. Stay up to date at KOLD.com or on your KOLD mobile app.