Judy (Bixby) Hagstrom ‘56

Judy (Bixby) Hagstrom ‘56
Nicole Sheldon


A Lifetime Career

When Judy was in junior high, her friend Marie Nordquist said “I think I’m going to go to Minnehaha Academy next year.”  Judy had never heard of it, but thought “If Marie is going, maybe this could be a place where I could go?”

That summer, she went to some outdoor meetings at Medicine Lake. Judy had grown up in the faith, but her desire to know Jesus was heightened after she went to these meetings. Throughout that summer, Judy repeatedly asked to go to MA, but her dad was emphatic that public school would be just fine for her. “I did not want to take his advice; I was an independent child, and decided I was going to pursue going to MA.” She had begun drawing as a young child, and usually gave her work away.  Elementary and middle school teachers' report cards said “she enjoys and excels in art.”   Recognition and compliments always inspired Judy.  That summer, she began to receive small amounts of money for her art; she raised $150, which would pay her tuition.    

Judy pays for her tuition by selling her art

Her first day at MA is still very vivid in her memory. Mrs. Berg, both her homeroom and biology teacher, greeted her and made her feel at home. She made some new friends that day who are still some of her best friends now, 65 years after graduation.  

Her artistic gifts really began to grow under the guidance of Mr. Richard Cooper, her art teacher and the yearbook advisor. He diligently taught color, composition, and design elements “that I have used all my career.” Mr. Cooper chose her as his assistant editor of the Antler yearbook and made her his advertising manager. Because of her giftedness in art, she was often sought out by teachers and faculty to help with publicity and promotions around the school for different events and activities.  

Expressing her faith in her paintings

 “In the fall of ‘53, during a daily Bible chapel, the school Pastor asked if any of us felt that we would like to accept the Lord. The pull was so strong and I was ignited with a burst of faith and I stood up. I was so happy, it was like I was free! I have never forgotten that day and I can remember running out of the chapel. I felt so joyful in my soul and spirit!  I was able to look back and know my devoted Christian mother, dedicated Pastor, confirmation, and the summer tent meetings laid out the groundwork for the experience of Jesus that took place that day at MA.”  From then on, Judy expressed her faith in her paintings, often adding scripture verses via calligraphy. “This remains an inspiration to many.”

This is a painting of Judy's where she tied her faith to her painting

 Judy graduated from the University of MN-Twin Cities with an Art Education degree with honors and taught art in the St. Paul and St. Louis Park school systems during the ‘60’s.  In 1964, she developed Judy Hagstrom Art and Design.  Since then, her 58 year career has brought many opportunities.  She enjoys doing commissioned art.  She spent twenty years (1984-2004) selling her art at the Minnesota State Fair, designed a Christmas Shop collection for Target stores, illustrated cards and calendars, and sold her art at the American Swedish Institute in Minneapolis.  Throughout, she sold her art at shows all over the Upper Midwest.  

Giving all credit to God

“I want to give all credit to God. He gave me the style and ability to express myself with art. I trusted Him to guide me.  My mother was the great encourager.  My father provided and early teachers inspired. MA teachers continued to give of themselves with an honest and special interest. They cared for me.”

In 1961, Judy married Bill Hagstrom. Bill, also a teacher, left teaching to pursue a career with Burlington Northern Railway, where he served for 32 years. He spent many weekends driving Judy to art shows, setting up, and assisting with sales. Bill was also Judy’s accountant. Their son Judson ‘89 is an artist and teaches in Eden Prairie.  He and his wife Susan have two sons, Lars and Henry. Judy’s brother Jim Bixby ‘58 followed in Judy’s steps at Minnehaha.

Judy and Bill have been active members of Bethany Baptist Church and Calvary Church, both of Roseville, throughout their 60 years of marriage. Now retired after 58 years of Judy’s long career, they both say, “God has been good to the Hagstrom family—always!”  




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