Searcher Spotlight: Judi Apfel

Though she has lived in Concord for 30 years, Judi Apfel is still sometimes in a New York state of mind. “I was originally from New York City and generally return at least once a year to visit family and refresh my New York accent and attitude,” she says.

She may have attitude, but so does SAR, she says – it’s an upbeat attitude and she enjoys that. She also likes the jokes, camaraderie, and yes, the hard work, too. 

Judi has a resume of what her mother called “do-gooder jobs.” She spent most of her career working to help others, starting with the Peace Corps in Honduras right out of college. When she moved to the Bay Area, she landed a job next door to OES, at Juvenile Hall, where she worked as a counselor. In her 40s, she went to law school and passed the bar, but then continued working for government agencies and nonprofits.

When she retired seven years ago, she joined SAR because she was looking for “something fun and exciting to do,” she says.

Judi’s dedication to search and rescue is exemplified in the many, many hours she has put in as a member of the Canine Resource with her dog Neva. Judi spent some 40 hours a month training Neva. However, Neva didn't make it to certification and two years ago, then age 9, she found a new job as the SAR PR pup and Judi’s loving it. “It has turned out to be one of the most rewarding activities that I participate in on the SAR team,” she says.

Though it seems as though Judi is ever-present with SAR, she does have a life outside the team with her partner of 40 years, Pat. The two share a common love of the water and belong to the San Francisco Dolphin Club. Pat enjoys open-water swimming while Judi kayaks.

But when it comes to fun, for Judi, SAR fits the bill. Though she has been around a lot of people bent on service, the SAR team is special, she says: “I have never worked with a more dedicated and selfless group of people than those on the SAR team.”