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Robert Cox

Writing on the Wall

Robert Cox is associate editor for Carroll County Newspapers. His email address is RCox@cherryroad.com.

Opinion

Part of the story

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Earlier this year, I received a phone call from a man with a special request.

It wasn’t unusual in any way, but it was the first such call I’d received directly since I moved to Carroll County.

The caller, who identified himself simply as Ted Lockwood, was calling to inquire about a pair of photos we’d published in November as part of our Veterans Day coverage.

The photos in question — taken by former staffer Samantha Jones — depicted retired U.S. Army Maj. Steven Judge in full uniform, saluting the flag during a ceremony in Eureka Springs.

Judge, a Chicago native, served 34 years in the Army, including stints in Germany and Iraq, before moving to Eureka Springs. He died 11 days after those photos were taken at the age of 63.

Lockwood — whom I later learned was retired Army Lt. Col. Theodore Lockwood and a longtime friend of Judge — wondered if he might have copies of those photos to use at a memorial event for Judge.

That was an easy request to fulfill, and after sending the photos and getting a heartfelt thank-you from Lockwood, I didn’t expect to hear much more about it.

Then, late last month, I received an email from Lockwood, again thanking me for allowing him to use the photos, along with an additional request and a story of what happened at the memorial.

“I made an on-going donation to the Chicago Boys and Girls Club in Steve’s memory,” Lockwood wrote. “This group was very dear to him, but he had no time to leave formal instructions from his estate — although it was his desire. So I thought I would help him recognize their impact on him. Because of this, they want to do a write-up in their newsletter about Steve.

“I love the photos and thought they would be wonderful if included in the story.”

Again, this was an easy request to fulfill, especially for a veteran. I gave permission and provided Lockwood with the proper credit to be used on the photos.

What really interested me, however, was Lockwood’s account of the memorial event.

A pair of photos stand atop a piano at a memorial event for retired U.S. Army Maj. Steven Judge, who died on Nov. 22, 2021.
Photo courtesy of Theodore Lockwood

“By the way, interesting story,” he wrote. “I had the photos framed as 8x10s for the farewell and set them on what was actually a piano top in the Irish Pub.

“It is a tradition to pour a drink for a lost comrade and so in saying farewell to him we did the same. We had planned a whiskey toast and I told my son Alexander that Steve would never want whiskey to go to waste so he should drink it after the farewell.

“Alexander said, ‘Somehow the whiskey will be gone before that.’ “I thought he was implying he’d drink it but he assured me that, ‘Steve would have it somehow, some way.’

“Still thinking Alexander was just going to drink it, I went on. Later we placed a Jameson in front of his picture, had the toast and everyone said their goodbyes.

“Just as Steve’s good friend hugged me goodbye, the frame’s stand on the picture where he’s saluting and facing folded. The picture fell and kicked over the glass of Jameson, which emptied the whiskey and then fell to the floor but surprisingly did not break.

“It happened just as Alexander had said. It seems Steve had that final shot of Jameson with us.

“Thanks again for your support of this. You’re now part of the Steve story.”

I still don’t know much about Judge — I’d never met him — but hearing Lockwood’s story did go back and read his obituary.

I learned that Judge “enjoyed attending his morning coffee club and Thursday evening dinner club,” and that he “especially enjoyed spending time with his Army buddies Retired Lieutenant Colonel Ted Lockwood and Retired Lieutenant Colonel Tim Horton, both of the US Army.”

I learned he earned a Bachelor’s degree in Business from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, was a member of the ROTC, and despite his 34 years in the Army, he followed a family tradition by starting his military carrier in the U.S. Navy.

I wish I’d had the chance to meet the major and thank him for spending the majority of his life in service to our country.

Instead, I’ll have to be content to be “part of the Steve story” and raise a glass in his memory on my own.

Thank you for your service, Major.