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ONDBEAT: Judy Brown Brock’s life and death touched many

It was supposed to be a festive occasion, and it was, but there was a somber tinge in the late March air, too.

When an estimated crowd of 300 converged in the banquet hall at 101 Stone Chimney Place in Supply last Saturday morning for the Holden Beach Women’s Club’s 11th Annual Blooming for a Cause Charity Gala, a number of members wore different articles of black amid all the celebratory spring hues and ensembles.

That was intentional and a tribute. They were paying their respects to club president Judy Brown Brock, whose life came to an abrupt end just two weeks earlier.

On Saturday, March 16, a Silver Alert was issued for Brock, 71, after her husband, Phillip Harry Brock, reported her missing from their Holden Beach home. He told authorities he had last seen his wife Friday morning, March 15, and reported her missing that afternoon.

As searches fanned out by a multitude of agencies, Judy Brock was found dead Wednesday, March 20, in a wooded area of Sampson County 90 miles north of Holden Beach. Phillip Brock, 71, was arrested that evening on first-degree murder charges and booked into the Brunswick County Detention Center without bail.

According to investigators, up until her last days Judy Brock had been busily planning the upcoming gala with fellow club members based on her last text messages in her cell phone. But several calls and texts to her the day she was reported missing were not returned.

A memorial service for her took place last Monday, March 25, at Dobson Chapel Baptist Church in her native Duplin County.

Serving as a longtime member, newsletter editor and president of the GFWC-Holden Beach Women’s Club was just one of Judy Brock’s community involvements.

She was also a retired, lifelong schoolteacher, including with Brunswick County Schools, was listed as a ministry and publicity chairwoman for Holden Beach Chapel and was a member of the Holden Beach Beautification Club.

At the March 19 Holden Beach Board of Commissioners meeting, Mayor Pro Tem John Fletcher asked everyone to “keep Judy Brock and her family in your prayers.”

Commissioner Joseph Butler thanked town police and fire departments for ongoing efforts to search for the then still-missing woman. Commissioner Peter Freer echoed similar sentiments, stating police were working hard to find her.

Holden Beach Women’s Club member Carolyn Sweatt, overseeing the front check-in table at last Saturday’s gala, said continuing with the annual event had been difficult for members in the wake of their president’s death. They were trying to carry on as best as they could.

Proceeds from the annual fundraiser will once again go to charity, including Providence Home family emergency teen shelter and, as always, Hope Harbor Home, a shelter for women and children who are victims of domestic abuse.

Laura Lewis is assistant editor at the Beacon. Reach her at 754-6890 or llewis@brunswickbeacon.com.