Judy Bentley writes hiking guides, history, and biography. She taught composition, literature, and Pacific Northwest History for more than 20 years at South Seattle College and now enjoys more time hiking, biking, exploring history, and writing.
She has written 15 books of young adult nonfiction, including biographies of Sandra Day O’Connor, Desmond Tutu, Fidel Castro, Harriet Tubman, Thomas Garrett, William Still, James Tilton and Charles Mitchell, a fugitive slave boy on the West Coast Underground Railroad.
Her first book for a general audience was Hiking Washington’s History, published by the University of Washington Press, followed by Walking Washington’s History: Ten Cities. The second edition of Hiking Washington’s History, co-authored with guidebook author Craig Romano, was published in 2021 with 12 new hikes, updates, and more detailed trail information.
Also in 2021 with Indiana Historical Society Press, she published 25 Sugarland Road, Letters of Love and War, 1943-1945, a chronicle of war and the homefront told through the letters of her young, newly married parents.
With the Delridge Neighborhoods Development Association, she conducted an oral history project about the Youngstown-Cooper School in West Seattle. The narrative from that project is featured on a website showcasing the school and neighborhood’s history: www.delridgehistory.org. She contributes as an oral historian to other projects of the Southwest Seattle Historical Society.
Judy was born in Indiana, went to Oberlin College in Ohio, lived and worked in New York City, then moved with her husband and two children to Seattle. She has been a newspaper reporter, a copy editor, a high school teacher, a community college instructor, a writer. She hikes, bikes, and has served on boards of organizations such as the Southwest Seattle Historical Society, the Pacific Northwest Historians Guild, Peace Action of Washington, and the PTA.
She lives in a home looking west over Puget Sound, a view that distracts on sunny days and turns thoughts inward on gray, rainy days. She leads walks and hikes along the pathways that have resonance for her–Alki, the Duwamish River, Coal Creek, Cowlitz Pass, and the Columbia Hills. Listen to this interview by Feliks Banel on KIRO about history hikes in the Puget Sound area.