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Charley Judd Park

Kids from Butte Central Elementary enjoy some time away from class at Charley Judd Memorial Park on Monday. Marty Judd, a son of the late Charley Judd, has donated $60,000 for improvements to the park.

A son of Charley Judd has donated $60,000 to the park in Butte named after his father, who ran Charley’s New Deal Bar for decades and threw giant Halloween parties for kids in the Mining City.

Parks Director J.P. Gallagher said preliminary plans are to use the money recently donated by Marty Judd to put in a new basketball goal at Charley Judd Memorial Park near Butte Central Elementary, resurface half a court and remove some old asphalt and replace it with grass.

The small park sits between 1st and 2nd streets, about two blocks east of South Main Street and just northwest of Butte Central Elementary. Part of it is an old tennis court with high fences around it but it also has plenty of grass and open space and a large playground structure.

Kids from the elementary school use it at recess and lunch breaks; it draws others from a day care and it’s also open to anyone else since it belongs to and is maintained by Butte-Silver Bow.

Gallagher said Marty Judd lived for many years in Logan, Utah, where he was a beer distributor, but now lives in Missoula. He contacted Gallagher around Christmas time and told him he wanted to donate the money to the park in memory of his father.

“It was very generous of him,” Gallagher said. “It is a great thing for our parks.”

Charley Judd graduated from Butte High School in 1935 and went on to own and operate the New Deal Bar on South Arizona Street, where, according to a story in The Montana Standard about his death in 1981, “he greeted patrons with a genial smile and quick wit for more than 40 years.”

In 1941, he held his first New Deal Halloween Party for the kids of Butte, a tradition that carries on to this day in his name and drew as many as 3,000 kids before Judd died at the age of 64. Costumed kids would line up for candy, popcorn and candy apples.

Judd also sponsored numerous sports teams over the years, and according to the Standard, “could quote statistics from the Butte leagues to the majors.”

“He never tired of telling stories of Butte’s earlier days and of his days and nights behind the bar, although ill health forced him to spend less and less time there the last few years,” the 1981 Standard story said.

Gallagher said he consulted with Butte Central in drawing up preliminary plans for use of the money. Besides the other improvements, there should be enough money to take down the high fence around the old court, replace part of it with fence the same height as the rest of the park, and put in some new swings.

He said all plans would be run past Marty Judd for his OK before anything is done.

Don Peoples Jr., president of Butte Central Schools, said the park is a hit with young school kids and he and others were “thrilled” with the donation from Marty Judd.

Charley Judd, Peoples said, “was a real philanthropist.”

“And his legacy lives on,” he said.

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Government and politics reporter

Mike Smith is a reporter at the Montana Standard with an emphasis on government and politics.

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