Judy Lee Klemesrud was born on June 11, 1939 in Thompson, Iowa to Glee Catherine Florence Klemsrud (1909–1986) and Theo Severin Klemesrud (1902–1995). She had a sister, Candace K. Klemesrud (1947–1989) and a brother, Tom Theo Klemesrud. Her father, who survived both his daughters, owned and published the Thompson Courier and Rake Register in Winnebago County, Iowa.
She attended the University of Iowa from 1958 until she was graduated in 1961. She later attended the Columbia University School of Journalism. While attending the University of Iowa, she worked as an editor at The Daily Iowan. She then spent four years as a reporter for the Chicago Daily News. She then spent 19 years at The New York Times beginning in 1966, and ending at her death in 1985. She also wrote for such magazines as: Esquire, Cosmopolitan, Ladies Home Journal, Redbook, and The New York Times Magazine. In 1968, she signed the "Writers and Editors War Tax Protest" pledge, vowing to refuse tax payments in protest against the Vietnam War.
She won various awards for her work at The New York Times. These included two "Page One" awards from the Newspaper Guild of New York for her 1973 story, In a Small Town U.S.A., Women's Lib is Either a Joke or a Rarity, and a 1983 profile on tennis celebrity Ivan Lendl. In 1969 she won a Front Page Award from the Newspaper Women's Club of New York for a story about adoptions by single women.
- Audio tape. Judy is interviewed about her career
- Judy Klemesrud memorial service audio tape, New York City, 10-29-1985
- Foremost Women in Communications. Foremost Americans Publishing Corp. 1970.
- Who's Who of American Women. Marquis Who's Who. 1975–1976.
- "Judy Klemesrud (1939-1985)". Iowa Women's Archives. Archived from the original on 2006-05-16. Retrieved 2007-07-21.
- Deidre Badker (June 9, 2014). "Klemesrud, Theodore Severin 1902-1995". Mitchell Obituaries. Retrieved January 1, 2016.
- "Writers and Editors War Tax Protest", New York Post, January 30, 1968.
- Donald Trump's Long Publicity Con Michael D'Antonio, The Daily Beast, November 28, 2015. Retrieved May 20, 2016.
- Donald Trump, Real Estate Promoter, Builds Image as He Buys Buildings New York Times, November 1, 1976. Retrieved May 20, 2016.
- Judy Lee Klemesrud Find A Grave Memorial. Retrieved May 20, 2016.