Judy Coughlin, wife of former NY Giants coach Tom Coughlin, dies at 77

Judy Coughlin, wife of former NY Giants coach Tom Coughlin, dies at 77

Tim Walters
 

Florida Times-Union

Judy Coughlin, wife of former New York Giants coach Tom Coughlin, has died, the family said in a statement Wednesday. She was 77.

Judy Coughlin was diagnosed in July 2020 with progressive supranuclear palsy, an incurable brain disorder that affects the ability to walk, speak, think and control body movements.

“My cherished wife and our beloved grandmother, Judy Whitaker Coughlin, passed away this morning at the age of 77,” the family statement read. “Judy was a remarkable woman in every way. She lived a life filled with love and unselfishly gave her heart and soul to others. Judy made you feel like an old friend from the first hug to the last. She was a mother to all on and off the field. For everyone who knew and loved Judy, the enormity of her absence cannot be put into words, but the immense kindness she showed to others will always endure. Our hearts are broken, but we know she is free from suffering and at peace with our Lord.”

Because of Judy’s condition, Tom became a full-time caregiver, with the support of the couple’s four children and 11 grandchildren.

As a result of that experience, the Jay Fund Foundation added a caregiver program to their many charitable initiatives.

Tom and Judy’s daughter Keli Coughlin is executive director of his charity. 

“I’ve learned firsthand caregiving is all-consuming,” Coughlin wrote in a New York Times column last year. “It is mentally and physically exhausting. Sometimes you just need a break. When Judy is having a good day, then my day is good. But then there are dark days — those days that are so full of frustration and anger, they have me feeling like a failure and pondering the unfairness of the disease. I’ve spent my entire life preparing for some of the biggest games a person could play, but nothing can prepare you to be a caregiver who has to watch a loved one slip away.”

What Coughlin has learned about caregiving infused a new program offered by the Jay Fund, which he founded in 1996 to provide financial, emotional and practical support for families tackling childhood cancer.

The charity was named in honor of Jay McGillis, a college player he coached who died of leukemia. It operates in Jacksonville, Florida, and the New York/New Jersey area, where Coughlin led his respective NFL teams.

The Jay Fund Foundation has raised more than $13 million for victims of childhood cancer as of 2021.

“We have learned what love, dedication, commitment, selflessness all mean on a much deeper level,” Keli Coughlin said in April 2022. “This is a 24-hour-a-day job with few breaks and it’s emotionally, mentally and physically taxing.

“Each family walks their own journey, but it does make it more relatable for me to personally imagine what parents of kids with cancer are going through. It has taught our family to treasure the moments together. I am glad part of what the Jay Fund does is work to provide families with special times together to make positive and special memories.”

The Giants released a statement Wednesday: “We were saddened to hear of Judy’s passing this morning. She was an incredibly bright light for all of us, and we were blessed that she shared her energy, vitality and love with our organization,” Giants co-owners John Mara and Steve Tisch said. “As Tom has often noted, his role as head coach ended at the front porch. When he walked through the door, Judy was the boss. Our thoughts are with Tom and the entire Coughlin family.”

Coughlin coached the Giants for 12 years, going 102-90 and winning the 2007 and 2011 Super Bowls (XLII and XLVI).

Before coaching the Giants, he was 68-60 with the Jaguars and led the team to four consecutive playoff appearances, highlighted by a 14-2 season in 1999.

Coughlin returned to the Jaguars in 2017 to run football operations. The team won the AFC South that season and came a game away from the Super Bowl but two years later, Coughlin was let go.

Florida Times-Union writers Beth Cravey and Garry Smits contributed to this report.

This content was originally published here.

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