Judson and his wife, Joyce, gave $15 million to DePauw in 2005 to frontload the $29 million expansion and renovation of what is now the Judson and Joyce Green Center for the Performing Arts at DePauw and another $15 million in 2013 to launch the 21st Century Musician Initiative.
Source: DePauw University Collection.
It is with great sadness and a heavy heart that we report Lambda Fiji Brother Judson Green (Class of 1974) passed away peacefully on Monday, August 31, 2020, at his home in Orlando, Florida after complications related to a stem cell transplant. Judson was diagnosed with leukemia in 2008 and was able to receive a stem cell transplant to combat the disease. The treatment sent him into remission before leukemia returned in a more aggressive form. About 130 days after the May 2011 procedure, Judson was diagnosed with lymphoma. He underwent chemotherapy and went into remission, though he suffered two strokes and had graft-versus-host disease, a consequence of the transplant. He is survived by his wife, Joyce, his son, his daughter, and his three grandchildren.
In a September 1 letter, DePauw President Lori White wrote, “No words can adequately convey the deep and profound loss this institution has suffered with the death of Judson C. Green ’74.
Truly ‘gold within,’ Judson, a Trustee since 1996, and former Chairman of Walt Disney Attractions, Inc., served DePauw in a myriad of ways. DePauw’s Board Chairman in 2001-2004, Judson Green was instrumental in the financing and revitalization of DePauw’s School of Music and in other University endeavors, and heavily invested in boosting the appeal of downtown Greencastle for our students and the whole community, just to name a few. In fact, the latest project Judson and his wife Joyce launched to benefit both DePauw and the city, Breadworks by Bridges, is still under construction. Judson Green was as approachable as he was generous and as creative as he was pragmatic. He leaves an everlasting imprint on the University in the beautiful Performing Arts Center that bears his and Joyce’s names and in the spirit that imbues every music student who benefits from his generosity. He was a dedicated son of our Old Gold. The DePauw community joins the Greens in mourning the loss of our dear friend.”
Judson and his wife, Joyce Taglauer Green ’75, gave $15 million to DePauw in 2005 to frontload the $29 million expansion and renovation of what is now the Judson and Joyce Green Center for the Performing Arts and another $15 million in 2013 to launch the 21st Century Musician Initiative, intended to re-imagine the music school curriculum to train students to become entrepreneurial professionals.
Judson was awarded the Robert C. McDermond Medal for Excellence in Entrepreneurship from DePauw in 1997 and the Old Gold Goblet in 2011. He was the 1999 commencement speaker.
Judson, born in Quincy, Illinois, on June 27, 1952, began learning to play piano at age four, and music played a key role in his life. During his youth, Judson achieved the rank of Eagle Scout with the Boy Scouts of America. While studying economics and music composition at DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana, he would have weekend gigs in Chicago with performers such as Bobby Vinton and Pat Boone. Later in life, Judson would complete
several jazz albums of his work on the piano. In a 2019 interview with DePauw Magazine, he recalled his experience as a four-year-old, sitting with his back to the upright piano as his sister took lessons. He went on to become an accomplished jazz pianist and French horn player and expressed his desire to major in music at DePauw.
Judson worked for Disney for nearly 20 years. He rose to be Chief Financial Officer and then in 1991 became President of Walt Disney Attractions, working on projects around the globe. He also had served as Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer for the resort that became Disneyland Paris. Among his accomplishments during his Disney tenure was the development and opening of Disney’s Animal Kingdom in 1998, which remains Disney World’s newest theme park.
“It was with sadness that we learned of Judson Green’s passing. He was passionate about leadership and creativity and will be greatly missed by many,” said Jeff Vahle, current Walt Disney World President, in a statement.
In June 1996, Judson presents a donation to DePauw’s Center for the Performing Arts.
Source: DePauw University collection.
Eager for a new challenge, Judson took over the bankrupt NAVTEQ Corp. in 2000. He shepherded it through a successful initial public offering in 2004 and sold it to Nokia in 2008.
While his career ultimately followed a different path, music had a defining impact on Judson’s life, and he used it and the lessons he learned through music in everything he did. He sought to share his belief in its power to transform people’s lives by shaping and enhancing relationships, communities, and cultures. Judson ultimately returned to his early aspirations and recorded six albums of his own compositions.
He applied similar philosophies to music and business: “If you have a foundation and you’re going to play a 32-bar tune, and you’re going to play it very simply and we agree on the time and the key, we even agree on the leader then, at least in jazz, you’re basically free to do anything you want to do. And each musician can be as creative as he or she wants to be, but they have to align themselves with the few principles – the foundation that I’m talking about – in order to enable creativity, in order to encourage it. I liked the beauty of that.”
“As a 21st-century musician, I have come to realize that music is for life’s sake, which explains why I am just as passionate about Samuel Barber’s ‘Adagio for Strings’ as I am with James Taylor’s recording of ‘Up on the Roof,’” he wrote on a website for his music.
During opening day ceremonies for Disney’s Animal Kingdom in 1998, Judson Green gave chimp expert Jane Goodall a porcelain Tree of Life. Source: Orlando Sentinel file
Judson was the keynote speaker at the 2015 Norris Pig Dinner. Source: Doug Mitchell collection
In business, “You want people to be free and creative and pursue what they think is right – but nonetheless be grounded in something, grounded in some beliefs that they can buy into.”
Philanthropy and giving back were important to Judson. In addition to being heavily involved in supporting DePauw and its surrounding community of Greencastle, Indiana, Judson and Joyce were supporters of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Dr. Phillips Performing Arts Center in Orlando, Florida. They donated $6 million to the Center over the years. A performance venue in the under-construction expansion of the venue will be named the Green Room after the couple, both of whom have served on the Center’s Board of Directors.
Judson accompanies Judy Kuhn on “Colors of the Wind” from “Pocahontas” at a Disney function in 1995.
Source: Orlando Sentinel file
Judson was an involved FIJI dating back to his days as an undergraduate. He was pledge class president and in 1972, he co-chaired a rush effort that produced a great pledge class. In 1974, he was named the outstanding jazz pianist at the Notre Dame Jazz festival.
As a loyal FIJI alum, he supported Lambda Chapter’s Capital Campaign and was named one of the first recipients of the Distinguished Lambda FIJI Award. He also received the Phi Gamma Delta Educational Foundation’s Distinguished FIJI award in October 2014. He spoke at Lambda’s 2015 Pig Dinner.
He is remembered with great fondness by his FIJI brothers.
Judson performing “Take Me Home,” originally written for his mother, live in 2016.
In October 2014, Judson received his Distinguished FIJI award from Ben Robinson, IHQ Executive Director of the Phi Gamma Delta Educational Foundation at the Lambda chapter house. Source: Doug Mitchell collection
Rest in Peace, Judson.