Southern Folklore cofounder battling illness

By , Special to The Daily Memphian Updated: June 10, 2024 11:42 AM CT | Published: June 10, 2024 4:00 AM CT

Judy Peiser, the cofounder of the Center for Southern Folklore and a noted figure in Memphis’ cultural history over the past several decades, is battling Alzheimer’s and is living in an East Memphis residential facility, her cousin Sherri Lipman confirmed last week.

Peiser started showing signs of the disease years ago and officially stepped down from her role as executive director of the Center in July 2021. 

“We’re just trying to keep her entertained and happy. She always carried the weight of the Center on her shoulders,” said Lipman, whose mother Sandra is Peiser’s first cousin. 

Peiser was usually most visible during the Center for Southern Folklore’s Memphis Music and Heritage Festival, usually held Downtown on Labor Day weekend. The festival, which began in 1982 and was last staged in 2017, featured stages full of live music, dance, art, cooking exhibitions and much more.


Judy Peiser Center for Southern Folklore Subscriber Only

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Jody Callahan

Jody Callahan graduated with degrees in journalism and economics from what is now known as the University of Memphis. He has covered news in Memphis for more than 25 years.


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