HomeTravelKenneth N. Judson, 87

Kenneth N. Judson, 87


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Kenneth N. Judson of Oak Bluffs died peacefully in his sleep on Feb. 28 at Royal Health in Falmouth. He was 87.

He was born in 1935 in Auburn, Me., the son of William and Ethel Judson. He excelled in academics and sports in high school and was an Eagle Scout.

He was an avid adventurer and wanted to experience as much as possible during his life. His greatest passions were reading books, writing stories and photography. Regardless of where on the globe his path led, periods of time on Martha’s Vineyard Island were a thread woven throughout his travels.

After high school, he worked on a fishing boat for a year before joining the U.S. Army in 1957. He served as an infantryman in the 25th Infantry Division (Tropic Lightning) in Hawaii. After his service, he attended Bowdoin College in Maine and graduated with a degree in history.

He moved to Detroit and worked as a salesman until graduating from law school in 1972. He had a successful law practice for several years until he got bored with it. Having natural charisma and amazing social skills, he went back into sales. This allowed him to travel wherever he liked and to interact with people — something he truly enjoyed.

Ken moved to the western states, taught himself Spanish and then moved to Juarez, Mexico. He spent many years in Mexico but couldn’t stay still for long. He moved to Asia and split his time between Thailand and Vietnam while teaching English. Because of his constant and boundless travels, his family affectionately nicknamed him Polo.

He was an avid writer throughout his life and spent much of his time incorporating his travels and experiences into short stories. He brought his characters vividly to life. From his experience as a bar bouncer in Detroit’s impoverished Cass Corridor in the 1970s to his days in post-war Vietnam meeting with the senior Communist Party leader in his village who wanted to meet “the American,” he brought the reader with him on his travels.

Regardless of where in the world he was, he never sought comfort or luxury. He was happy sleeping on a straw mat in a hut. As long as he had a few good books, a camera and a pen, he was home.

In his 70s, Ken finally came back to the U.S. and settled down in Oak Bluffs. He spent his retirement years reading, writing and sailing whenever he could find his way onto a boat.

Ken is survived by his daughter Jennifer Lehto of Fort Lauderdale, Fla. and son Mark Judson of Cary, N.C., his niece Laurie Welch of Oak Bluffs and his nephew Andrew Woodruff of Chilmark. He was predeceased by his sister, confidante and lifelong companion Nathalie Woodruff of Oak Bluffs.

He was always adamant that when he passed, he wanted his death treated in Irish Wake fashion: a celebration and remembrance of his life rather than a mournful, weepy, gloom and doom affair. In lieu of flowers, please grab your favorite beverage, hoist your glass and toast to Polo.

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