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James Patrick Judge Sr. (July 9, 1945 – Dec. 29, 2023), an American entrepreneur, Florida construction pioneer, inventor, U.S. patent holder, father of three, and resident of Dunedin, Florida since 1994, was born in Waukegan, Illinois, as the firstborn child to Robert and Muriel Judge.
In 1959, the family moved to Sarasota, Florida, where James attended Cardinal Mooney High School. While James had wanted to perform his patriotic duty and join his friends by serving in the U.S. military in Vietnam, James was denied entry to service because of a previous injury he sustained to his hand, while working at Winn Dixie as a bagboy and stock-boy. Around that same time, James was also learning the trade of finishing concrete. While working at Winn Dixie, James saved $700 to buy a used pickup truck and the tools he would need to start his own concrete finishing company, which he named Judge Construction and incorporated in the late 1960s. Under James’s leadership, and with the help of his family, Judge Construction grew into one of the largest concrete pumping operations in the southeastern United States. Among the company’s many accomplishments, Judge Construction pumped the concrete needed for the construction of Walt Disney World, Epcot, Crystal River Nuclear Powerplant, Turkey Point Nuclear Power Plant, the Skyway Bridge, Raymond James Stadium, Busch Gardens, Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, Tampa International Airport, and many of the high-rises, which make up the skylines of Tampa, Miami, Orlando and Jacksonville to this day.
One of James’s most cherished construction projects was when his company was contracted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to travel to San Juan, Puerto Rico to help with developing and executing a plan to save the famed 16th century Spanish Fort, Castillo San Felipe del Morro, known to San Juan locals as El Morro. Judge Construction pumped concrete in strategic locations around the base of the fort to prevent further tidal erosion.
In the 1980s, Judge Construction was sold, and James and his brother Tom started a new company called PUMPS Inc. (Pumping Units Manufacturing Parts & Amp; Systems Incorporated). PUMPS Inc., began to manufacture smaller concrete pumps that could be towed behind trucks, rather than the larger truck-mounted boom pumps Judge Construction had previously used. While PUMPS Inc., manufactured both pumps and parts, the biggest accomplishment was when James, Tom and their team designed a new and improved concrete pump, which was inspired by Mayco’s original C-30 concrete pump. The piston-driven P-88 Concrete pump was born. The P-88 pump was unique because many of its parts were interchangeable with Mayco pumps, but the P-88 could pump longer and was far more efficient and reliable. With popularity in the P-88 pump growing, James and Tom sold the company in 1991 to Schwing America, the American subsidiary of Schwing-Stetter, a German-based, global manufacturer of concrete pumps and concrete trucks.
Notably, in 2000 at the World of Concrete convention in Orlando, Florida, Schwing announced that the P-88 concrete pump had become the largest-selling small-line concrete pump in the world. Following the sale of PUMPS Inc., James founded Concrete Pump Dispatch Inc. with his brothers, Tom and Kerry. James retired from daily operations in the mid-90s, but remained on the board as an officer of the company, while Tom took the helm and led the company with Kerry until earlier in 2023 when the brothers retired and the company was dissolved. In 2000, James was presented the Pioneer Award by the American Concrete Pumping Association for his lifetime contributions to the industry.
While James loved the challenges and adventures of starting businesses and traveling the world, he loved living in Dunedin, Florida and watching the city’s transformation over the past thirty years. James was also a die-hard Florida Gator football fan and season ticket holder for decades.
More than any of that, though, he loved his family. Before his passing, James proclaimed Jesus Christ as Lord of his life, repented of his sins and received Holy Communion.
James was preceded in death by his siblings, Barbara, Patricia and Robert. James is survived by his daughters, Alexandria, Anastasia and his son, James Jr.; his grandchildren, Benjamin, Isaac and Logan; his brothers, Tom and Kerry; and his sister Shari.
James’s funeral is scheduled to be held on Thursday, January 4, 2024, at 10:30 a.m. at Espiritu Santo Catholic Church in Safety Harbor, Florida. Following the service, there will be a procession to Sylvan Abbey Memorial Park in Clearwater where a graveside service will be held. A celebration of life is scheduled to be held at Capogna’s Dugout in Clearwater following the services.