Sallye Jude

Memories of Sallye Jude from those who knew and loved her

In a city populated by an extraordinary array of talented people, every so often someone comes along who is so remarkable that they deserve special recognition. Sallye Jude, who recently passed away at the age of 96, was such a person.

A force of nature, she immediately registers in our minds as an icon, a community legend, a tenacious historic preservationist, a focused conservationist, and a God-loving woman of deep faith. Her warm manner extended to all – excluding plastics, foams, and the destruction of our historical and natural treasures. The sheer number of biographies and articles about Sallye is overwhelming. If only we could also hear from all the flora she surrounded herself with, like the 27-year-old fern she nurtured at her Java Head home. Perhaps her most precious secrets are held by them. Many Gableites have a Sallye story. Here, we offer a sample from a few who walked alongside her.

Memories of Sallye Jude
Sallye and her husband with Don Slesnick and

Roles & Awards

Whether founder, president, advisor, member, trustee, or partner, Sallye held leadership roles with Dade Reading Foundation, Magic City Enterprises, Florida Trust for History Preservation, Dade Heritage Trust, Deering Foundation, St. Augustine Church, Historic Preservation Association of Coral Gables, Miami Serra Club, Land Trust of Miami-Dade County, Urban Environment League, Miami River Business Association, Florida Federation of Garden Clubs, The Villagers, the National Garden Club Association, Friends of the Everglades, Coral Gables Garden Club, and several other local plant societies, among a myriad of others.

Awards include the “Unsung Heroine” by the City of Miami’s Commission on the Status of Women in 1995, the F. Carl Weinhardt Award by the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation, “A Woman of Impact” by the Women’s History Coalition in 1998, and the Henrietta Harris Award by Dade Heritage Trust in 2000.

Birth of a Legend

Sallye Garrigan was born in Baltimore, Maryland in 1926. She graduated from the University of Maryland with a degree in economics and was awarded a Kappa Delta sorority scholarship to do graduate work at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, where she received a Masters in Elementary Education. It was there that she met a young medical student, James Jude, at a Catholic Club gathering. They married in 1952.

Memories of Sallye Jude
Sallye on her Wedding day

In the mid-1950s, the Judes returned to Baltimore to live, work, and raise their family. It was while Dr. Jude was doing his residency at Johns Hopkins University and he was part of a team which pioneered the research leading to the development of CPR. Dr. Jude’s work with CPR received national recognition and brought the Judes and their family to Miami in 1964, where Dr. Jude became c] Chief of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery at the University of Miami School of Medicine and at Jackson Memorial Hospital.

Upon arriving in Miami, Sallye – while raising her family of seven children (five boys and two girls) – became an active and integral part of the community. It was in the environmental and historic preservation realms that her star would really shine.

Sallye’s love for her community and deep affection for her family and friends was readily apparent to all. She had a heart of gold and was kind, warm, and always had the time to stop and give support and encouragement to those coming up behind her (or attempting to follow in her large footsteps). She is truly an inspiration!

  • Marlin Ebbert and Sherry Jordan, taken with permission from Coral Gables Garden Club website

The Tree Lover

Sallye Jude was a member of the Coral Gables Garden Club for 40 years. She was a Life Member, a Master Gardener, and a Master Flower Show Judge for the Florida Federation of Garden Clubs and the National Garden Clubs, Inc.

She was our tree whisperer, and because of her life-long dedication to planting trees, we dedicated our City of Coral Gables tree planting program, “Project Canopy,” to her in September 2020.

Sallye Jude
“Project Canopy” was dedicated to Sallye

Every chance she could, Sallye made us keenly aware of our environment and how we can protect and care for it. She attended her last Garden Club meeting on November 28th, 2022, and asked us to reduce the number of paper towels we used to save our trees. She was a great lady, a City of Coral Gables Icon, and will be missed.

Please go to if you would like to read more about Sallye Jude’s life or donate to our Project Canopy program in Sallye’s name.

  • Susan Rodriguez, president of the Coral Gables Garden Club

From Java Head to Marjory Stoneman Douglas’ Home

Sallye Jude was president of the board of Dade Heritage Trust in 1980 when I attended my first historic preservation meeting in Miami, held on the grounds of the historic home of William Jennings Bryan. That meeting began a 43-year-long friendship with Sallye and led to decades of historic preservation work together for Dade Heritage Trust (DHT), the Florida Trust, the National Trust, the Villagers, and the Deering Estate. Sallye’s determination, personal commitment, and hands-on restoration efforts were an inspiration to us all.

Sallye and her husband Dr. Jim Jude were gracious in opening their beautiful historic estate “Java Head” for countless meetings, tours, and special events to benefit preservation and environmental groups. I so appreciated their hosting a DHT book signing for my book “Florida’s Historic Restaurants” and another for “Miami’s Historic Neighborhoods.” Her two-story living room, filled with fabulous antiques and art, was a magnificent setting for parties.

Memories of Sallye Jude
Sallye at their Java Head home

After Hurricane Andrew destroyed the docks at Matheson Hammock – and our sailboat miraculously survived – Sallye and Jim offered to let us tie up our boat behind their house at their deep coral-rock protected dock on the Coral Gables Waterway. Little did we all know that it would be over two years before the County’s docks were repaired! They graciously tolerated our weekly visits as we traipsed to our boat through their ever-expanding terraced gardens.

Sallye was a founding member and president of the Land Trust of Dade County, created in 1988. She persuaded my husband, Tom Matkov, a real estate attorney, to be vice president (and pro bono attorney for everything!), and for over thirty years they worked together on the board to save and restore the Coconut Grove home of Marjory Stoneman Douglas.

  • Rebecca R. Matkov

A Floral Fascination

Sallye’s garden at Normandy Village

I first ‘met’ Sallye through a newspaper article about the Metropolitan Miami Flower Show that she was organizing. Being a flower arranger, I wanted to enter. As it turned out, I would be out of town for the show but we arranged to meet when I returned.

Sallye had arranged a meeting of the 29 Garden Clubs in our area to discuss the following year’s show. She announced that we were forming a new garden club at Pinecrest Gardens and I would be a member. We started out with about 20 ladies, and within a few months, there were nearly 90 members. Two years later, we hosted the Metropolitan Miami Flower Show.

Today, the Pinecrest Garden Club is a vibrant, active group of women and men and just one of the many legacies Sallye leaves behind. Sallye loved to encourage everyone to learn about floral design, horticulture, and the environment. She was a force and will be missed by many.

  • Sharon Trbovich

Notes from A Best Friend

Memories of Sallye Jude
Dolly McIntyre with Sallye

Sallye and I met in 1972, as we found ourselves to be kindred spirits in the early days of Dade Heritage Trust with a shared love of historic architecture.

We worked shoulder to shoulder to create a county historic resources department and to fund a county-wide historic survey. For the 1776 Bicentennial, we got the City of Miami to acquire Dr. Jackson’s Office and Surgery for a preservation center which continues to serve as Dade Heritage Trust Headquarters. Another Bicentennial project was the acquisition of the 1855 Wagner Homestead, which was slated to be bowled over by the Metrorail. It was moved to Lummus Park, where it serves as a museum and education center.

We traveled together a lot, including an epic trip to India, Buhtan, Sikkim, and Nepal. We went to a dozen or more conferences of the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation, from San Francisco to Mobile to Boston and many places in between.

In recent years, Sallye downsized from her art deco historic home [Java Head] to a townhouse in the French Normandy Village, right across the street from me! We used to joke about getting a couple of tin cans and some rope and setting up a “phone line” across the road.

In the last few years of her life, Sallye found herself challenged by technology, but that didn’t stop her advocacy for things she believed in. She would call me and say, “I think we should write a letter to the Herald about…” She would dictate her thoughts and I would put them in letter form and send them off to the editor or different elected officials. I am pleased to say we have a pretty good track record for publication.

I shall miss my dear kindred spirit.

  • Dolly McIntyre

Historic Preservationist

The relationship between Sallye Jude and the Slesnick family goes back to the late 1970s when we were introduced to a young emerging organization: Dade Heritage Trust. It was not long thereafter that we were immersed in the cause of saving our community’s built heritage as best we could.

Sallye and Dolly McIntyre were tireless warriors on behalf of preservation, holding homemade spaghetti dinners and bake sales to raise funds for the cause. When Don became President of DHT, he and Sallye fought many preservation battles together – some successfully (Wagner Homestead, Dr. Jackson’s office, old Miami High), some partially successfully (Ryan Motor Car Building, Anderson’s Corners), and some with sad endings (Brown House). There are too many to name.

She was our preservation mentor in both DHT and the Florida Trust. Don becoming President of both organizations was due in great part to Sallye’s encouragement and mentorship.

Sallye and the Historic Preservation Society

When Jeannett was on the Coral Gables Historic Preservation Board and when Don was chairing the Coral Gables Planning and Zoning Board, Sallye was an active influence supporting efforts to strengthen the Historic Preservation Ordinance (removing the need for owner consent, providing for TDRs, and enacting the Mediterranean Ordinance for commercial properties).

When Don was mayor and later when Jeannett was on the City Commission, Sallye, despite entering the last quarter of her life, never stopped lobbying for and promoting preservation and environmental issues – she did it with grace and civility (a rare commodity in this age of extreme partisanship and public distrust).

If we had to sum up Sallye Jude in one sentence, it would be: “Sallye was a tireless warrior who never backed away from what she perceived to be right; but effectively used ‘soft power’ and ‘tough love’ to accomplish her goals.”

  • Don and Jeannett Slesnick

A Daughter’s Eulogy

As many of you know, my mother had seven children, all two years apart in age. I am the third from the eldest and the oldest girl. You probably know what that means; I got to be my mother’s biggest “little” helper.

Having had so many children, my mother was always very, very busy. At one point, we were in six different schools. How she managed to get all of us to school on time is still a wonder to me. You see, my mother never had a driver’s license. She relied on many of you, her friends, to help her get us to school and take her to wherever she needed to go. And she was always going places because she had many interests and responsibilities.

Sallye: A young mother
Mom Grilling at home

First and foremost, she was a mother and wife. She cooked every meal and was very strict about what we ate. We never had soda, except on very special occasions. We could only eat Cheerios or Rice Krispies for breakfast. Coco Puffs were a Saturday treat, and on Sundays we went to the Krispy Kreme in the Grove after Mass at St. Hugh’s. I am pretty sure that was my dad’s doing though. She was also very strict about when and how much TV we watched. No TV on school nights and we were limited to two hours on weekends.

As a wife, she was always there to support my father; we waited for him to come home for dinner every night, even if he was late. She attended many, many medical conferences with him and hosted cocktail parties for doctors in their home. She was an active member of the University of Miami medical faculty wives.

When my father decided to run for Mayor of Coral Gables in 1969, she was a big help in running his campaign. She volunteered in all of our schools, always helping with fundraisers. That was something she was good at. I remember my mother and other moms making figures of the Three Kings out of papier mâché in our garage for the annual bazaar at Carrolton, with the funds going to build a new high school building. She is credited with being part of the small group that founded the Dade Reading Foundation, one of the earliest programs in Miami-Dade County for learning disabled children.

Mother and father on their many travels

We moved to Miami in the summer of 1964 when my father took a job at the University of Miami as Chief of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery. Two weeks after we moved into a rental house, we went through our first – that was a true “Welcome to Miami”. Without electricity, our parents took us to stay at a motel in Key West, which we thought was great because it had a swimming pool. Shortly thereafter, they bought Java Head, the home they lived in together for 49 years, and moved into on January 1, 1965.

As my mother acclimated to her newly adopted city and its subtropical climate, she threw herself into furnishing her new “historic” home and figuring out what would grow in her garden. For the first year, she tried planting the spring flowers she was familiar with from growing up in Baltimore. Well, as you can imagine, that didn’t work out very well. I remember pansies wilting in the April heat. I think it was this first couple of years, setting up her historic home and her attempts at gardening, that sparked her interest in historic preservation and preserving our natural world.

My mother was also a woman of faith. Our parents raised us in the Roman Catholic faith and set an example by going to Mass with us every Sunday. They dutifully made sure we received all of the sacraments. And my mother was always very worried about any of her children or grandchildren that were not following the faith. She was never shy about talking to them about it, in addition to always praying for their return to the fold.

My mother was a woman of faith and both my parents were raised as Roman Catholics, attending Mass on Sundays that set an example for their children.

In recent years, she and our father turned their attention to supporting the Serra Club, which promotes and fosters vocations to the priesthood and consecrated religious life under Serra International. For the last 20 years, they served as officers for the Club, raising funds for the local seminary, St. John Vianney, hosting holiday parties for nuns in our community, and annually honoring young altar servers. Privately, she made significant donations to St. John Vianney seminary.

My mother was involved at the local and state level in multiple historic preservation and environmental organizations, as well as local plant societies. Rather than repeat what has already been very eloquently said by others, today I would like to speak to how her interest and involvement in the community touched and affected her children. From our mother, we were taught that:
1) You don’t sit back and watch the world go by…
2) You lead…
3) You help make a change in the world you live in, even if it is in a small way…
4) You don’t stay quiet about things you believe in…
5) You put your money where your mouth is.

My mother thrived on her work in the community, serving on committees and boards and working with many of you on countless fundraisers and events. Her interaction with you kept her mind sharp. My siblings and I are grateful to you for sharing your time and talents with her.

In closing, I would like to thank the one person who single handedly made it possible for our mother to live in her home until the day she died, without the assistance of any outside caregivers. This is our brother John. Many of you know John because he was our mother’s “wheels” these past 20 years or so. But much more than just providing her transportation, he was there to do whatever she needed to have done at the moment she needed it done!

John, all of us, your brothers and sisters, thank you from the bottom of our hearts for taking care of Mom so well, especially after Dad died seven years ago. Mom will love you always for this, as will we.

  • Cecilia Jude Prahl