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302-478-7100 Wilmington & Hockessin, DE

Judith Coolidge Carpenter Herdeg

Judith Coolidge Carpenter Herdeg, aged 85, passed away peacefully in her home on Tuesday, March 26th, 2024. The only child of Donald Fell and Louise Coolidge Carpenter, Judy spent her early childhood in Southport, CT, before ultimately moving to Pennsylvania. She graduated from Tower Hill School and Bennett College (NY), and studied at the Art League of New York. In 1961, Judy married the love of her life, John Andrew Herdeg, and they settled on her parent’s land in Mendenhall, PA, .

Judy committed her life, in partnership with John, to 18th century decorative arts and American history. Their lifelong passion started in 1963 with the reconstruction and restoration of the William Peters’ House, a 1750’s Georgian brick structure which, through their efforts, was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. This house, their family home for the next 60 years, was the impetus for a lifetime of research, scholarship, collecting and landscape design, with an emphasis on native flora and plants introduced before 1775. In partnership with John, they published a book on their collection, The Stories They Tell…from the Herdeg Collection through The New England Historic Genealogical Society.

Also a philanthropic leader in her community, Judy was an active member of many organizations committed to the preservation and celebration of American history and culture.  In 2022, The Winterthur Museum & Garden recognized Judy and John with the Museum’s highest honor, the Henry Francis du Pont Award, for over 40 years of leadership and service. Similarly, The Garden Club of Wilmington awarded Judy the Ethel Hallock du Pont Award for Horticultural Achievement. Some highlights of Judy’s lifelong career include her involvement in the restoration of Wilmington’s Grand Opera House and her years as Chairman of The Delaware Antiques Show.  Later, in her role as Head Regent of Gunston Hall in Virginia, she oversaw a re-focusing of their collection to highlight George Mason’s life and his contributions to American Democracy., She also led the planning, construction, and fundraising efforts for the George Mason Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Judy’s other societies and clubs include the New England Historic Genealogical Society, the National Society of Colonial Dames of America in Delaware,  The Garden Club of Wilmington, The Brandywine Chapter of the Embroidery Group of America and nationally, The General Society of Mayflower Descendants, and The Alden Kindred of America.  She enjoyed and valued the camaraderie of many lifelong friends through the West Chop Club of Martha’s Vineyard, the Vicmead Hunt Club.

Judy’s greatest accomplishments grew from projects that combined her passion for research with her dedication to craft. She immersed herself in classes at the Royal School of Needlework, a summer camp for embroiderers in New Hampshire, and attended weekend classes up and down the East Coast. She created a variety of stunning artwork and needlework that culminated in her masterpiece, a painstakingly detailed historical “casket” celebrating her family, her home, and her craft. Due to her skill and dedication, Judy was selected to work as an embroiderer of the Plimoth Jacket, an historically accurate reproduction of a 1620s embroidered English waistcoat, now on display at the Plimoth Plantation Museum.

By her friends and loved ones, Judy will be remembered for her Yankee spirit of resilience, resolve, and grace. She grew up enjoying horseback riding, tennis, gardening, camping, and the spirit of the American West. Her family lovingly recalls the hours and days she spent cooking family holiday meals of wild game, her signature chestnut soup, and historically accurate figgy pudding. Judy loved sitting in her orangery, surrounded by native fruit trees, treasured antiques, and hundreds of pap boats, documenting family genealogy and returning lost people and objects to the historical records.

Judy is survived by her three children and their spouses: Judith (Leli) Leland Herdeg Wilson and her husband Bill, Andrew Carpenter Herdeg and his wife Maggie, and Fell Coolidge Herdeg and his wife Cara, and seven grandchildren: Molly and Abigail Wilson, George and Ceci Herdeg, and Emma, Benjamin, and Sam Herdeg. The Herdeg and Wilson families are extremely grateful for the dedication and loving care provided by Judy’s caregivers and Bob Blackburn.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests contributions be made to the H. F. du Pont Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library (c/o Philanthropic Office, Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library, 5105 Kennett Pike, Winterthur, DE 19735); Gunston Hall, Historic Home of George Mason, (Gunston Hall, 10709 Gunston Rd, Mason Neck, VA 22079); Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (“Textiles—in memory of Judith C. Herdeg” / Development Department – MFA Boston 465 Huntington Ave., Boston, MA 02115)


Funeral Services

A Memorial Service will be held on Sunday, June 9, 2024 at 12:00 PM at Westminster Presbyterian Church, 1502 W. 13th St.,  Wilmington, DE 19806. A reception at Judy’s home in Mendenhall to follow. Interment is private.



    Hank Davis writes,
    Judy, I am so sorry for your loss. Losing a parent is always tough. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family at this time of sorrow. Hank
    04/12/2024 10:16 am
    Julia Loveless lit a candle and writes,
    Dear Leli, Andrew, and Fell, I was so sorry to hear of your mothers recent passing. I am so glad that I was able to stop over and visit with her last year. It had been such a long time since we had visited. I think of you and your families often. I have such fond memories of the Herdeg and Carpenter clan on the Vineyard and in Mendenhall. I have a trip to New England this July with a stop over at the Vineyard. I intend to try and get over to West Chop to take in the views and I will certaining be thinking of you all while I am there. I will definitely miss the annual Christmas cards. I do not think that I will be able to be in Delaware for the service on the 9th, however my thoughts and prayers will be with you all. Love to all, Bunny
    04/12/2024 12:50 pm
    Amy and Bob Ramsey lit a candle
    04/14/2024 06:50 pm
    Cooper Jager writes,
    I loved sharing Genealogy findings with "Aunt Judy" on and off over the last couple decades. Especially the findings on lineage to several Mayflower folks and Charlemagne. I made her a promise last year that I would merge and maintain our family trees as there is a lot of overlapping and yet quite a bit of unique information. That is my promise to you Aunt Judy, Rest In Peace you are much loved and will be greatly missed.
    04/14/2024 07:46 pm
    Dorinda Scharff Hawkins lit a candle
    04/18/2024 08:06 pm
    Thomas Carpenter Keiper writes,
    Dear Leli, Andrew, Fell & family, I am so dreadfully sorry to hear about the passing of your dear mother. What a very special and generous person she was in life. I shall always hold fond memories of your mother’s and my genealogy adventures. She was always so passionate about preserving the family record. Not to mention, her passion for collecting and preserving antiques. I absolutely love her and your father’s book “ The Stories They Tell “. Your mother was a remarkable woman. And I feel so privileged to have known her. She will truly be missed. My deepest condolences to you & your families. Truly, Thomas Carpenter Keiper
    05/17/2024 09:42 pm
    Donna Cohen lit a candle and writes,
    I am so very sad to hear of your loss! Your Mother was truly special! I am so very glad that I knew her! I loved working with her at the DE Antiques Show. Funny. I have two phone numbers for her but no address. May beautiful memories bring you comfort at this very sad time!!! Leli, I think that you dated my son, Bill Bundesen. Love to all of you!!!
    05/18/2024 12:56 pm
    Karen West writes,
    Judy- Miss your embroidery and company immensely. So happy to have known you so well- Will think of you often! KarenWest
    06/06/2024 03:14 pm
    Launa Sprouls lit a candle and writes,
    Judy, my embroidery friend. You will be greatly missed. Launa Sprouls
    06/06/2024 03:28 pm
    Ann Dean lit a candle and writes,
    With a heavy heart, we at Bumpers wish to give our sincere condolences to you and your family. Judy was a long-time client of ours and she will be greatly missed. We are honoring your sadness, celebrating a life well-lived and wishing you warm memories and peace. Kind regards, Ann
    06/10/2024 01:03 pm

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