Judith W. Constans was a skilled Seattle attorney who represented insured parties and insurance companies in civil cases.
But she was also a poet and a short-story writer who dreamed of being published. The Edmonds woman took workshops, attended conferences and spent a week at Whidbey Island's Hedgebrook Farm, an invitation-only writing camp.
She submitted work to publishers, only to receive rejection slips.
"She hoped to be a full-time writer when she retired," said her son Patrick Constans of Seattle. "But she didn't get the chance."
Ms. Constans died Sunday (April 23) of cancer, six days after her 58th birthday.
"The family gathered in her hospital room for a party," her son said. "She really enjoyed it. Her favorite gifts were always books."
According to a partner at Merrick Hofstedt & Lindsey, where Ms. Constans had worked since 1987, she brought joy to colleagues.
"She was good at her work, and her talent for writing crossed over into her legal writing," said Sid Snyder Jr. "But I think the rest of her life was more interesting. She had lived in Mexico, Guam and South America."
Born in Jacksonville, Fla., Ms. Constans lived in many places growing up; her adoptive father was in the service. She graduated from Wenatchee High School.
She earned a bachelor's degree at the University of the Americas in Mexico City, where she worked as an artist and mounted solo gallery shows.
Her early marriage to a Sears executive took her to countries throughout North and South America.
Ms. Constans moved to Seattle in 1984. She earned a law degree at the University of Washington in 1987 and joined the Merrick firm.
At the UW she was notes-and-comments editor of the Washington Law Review, and she wrote "The Environmental Right to Habitat Protection" for the publication.
She practiced law and honed her writing.
This year, her argument that Gerard Manley Hopkins' "Pied Beauty" should be included in the book, "Americans' Favorite Poems," was featured along with the poem in the anthology.
Her revealing comment, in part: "Oddly, I am not at all religious--and this is a praise poem--yet I can't help but share the poet's reverence for specific, wondrous details of the world around us."
Also surviving are her second husband, Richard Ruby, to whom she was married 13 years; children Michael Constans of Seattle and Katie Constans of Edmonds; mother, Loine Wickens, Wenatchee; father, Edward Boner, Fernandina Beach, Fla.; and brothers Jeff Wickens of Wenatchee and Edward Boner of Fernandina Beach.