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2019 Summer Season

We look forward to welcoming you and sharing these mountains, whether you're guests who return year after year, or guests who come for the very first time. We invite you to come and discover for yourself what makes a vacation with us an experience you'll remember for the rest of your life.

Remembering Judith "Juju" Alexander Coker

We lost her on March 20, at the age of 85. But we'll never lose our memories of this much-beloved member of the Ranch family.

Judith "Juju" Alexander was five years old when her parents, "Mr. Tom" and "Miss Judy" Alexander, founded Cataloochee Ranch and brought her here to live on the mountain. Almost immediately, she fell in love with horses, a love that was to last a lifetime. By the time she was 13, she was riding the trails on her own horse, Dixie, who had been born at the Ranch. She also became the youngest trail guide ever to work in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

She went away, just twice: Once to earn her degree in political science from Duke University, and once to follow her husband, who was serving in the U.S. Army in Germany. But her heart never left the mountain. And so she came back, too. For years, supervising the maintenance of the Ranch property, she pitched in on everything from mending fences to rounding up stray cows. She raised her children here. She carried forward her parents' record of environmental activism by joining the boards of the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy and the American Chestnut Foundation. And she became an avid cook who was often seen on WLOS-TV demonstrating recipes from her cookbook, "Cataloochee Cooking."

She was a storyteller, on paper and in person. In addition to writing short stories about her life on the mountain, she entertained at the Ranch's summertime "Way Back When" dinners with tales of the early days at Cataloochee. On Tuesday night, she gave history talks after dinner. And then she got up early and hosted breakfast every morning, even when she was well into her 80s.

Juju was strong. She was tough. And you always knew where she stood. But, beneath that no-nonsense exterior, there was a reservoir brimming over with love for her family, her friends, the guests she greeted every day at the Ranch, the land under her stewardship, the plants and the animals that lived their lives on her beloved mountain.

There will never be another Juju. But she will always be with us. So happy trails, Juju. Until we meet again.

You can watch a video tribute here.