A long line of law enforcement vehicles from the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office and other agencies stretched across town Thursday as a procession honored the late Assistant Chief James Judge, better known as “Jimmy.”
A JSO veteran of more than three decades, Judge lost his battle with ALS, a degenerative neuromuscular disease that is incurable and universally fatal.
The 55-year-old was diagnosed more than two years ago. In early 2021, he spoke to News4JAX about his battle with the disease and described his reaction to the devastating news.
“I took a day to feel sorry for myself and went home and cried and got it out of my system,” Judge said at the time. “I’ve been relying on my friends and family ever since.”
Judge continued, “I’m gonna keep fighting until the end, so if it gets me, it’s gonna have to take me.”
Judge died Jan. 14, 2023, and in an emotional memorial Thursday, Judge’s law enforcement colleagues shared stories and anecdotes of the beloved and highly-respected leader.
“He was widely loved and his passing is deeply felt throughout current and retired members of not only the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, but the Jacksonville Community,” Sheriff T.K. Waters said in a statement.
Judge left a deep impression on those he trained and worked with. One former colleague wrote, “Jimmy was amazing to work with, even in the difficult and sometimes frustrating situations, he always had a smile on his face. Go in peace Jimmy.”
Another wrote, “He was one of the best lieutenants I’d ever worked for during my career at JSO. Rest in peace sir.”
An avid gym enthusiast, Judge continued serving JSO and working out, despite his body’s deterioration. Defiant of the deadly disease until the very end. A final lesson for the son he left behind.
“I want to imprint on my son and show him that we don’t lay down,” Judge said in 2021. “I’m not gonna lay in bed and feel sorry for myself.”
The memorial service was branded a “Celebration of Judge’s Life.” There were tears and also laughs.
One colleague said he doesn’t believe Judge lost his battle with ALS, because he fought hard. He’s now resting peacefully and his memory lives on in the lessons he taught, the family he raised and the city he changed for the better.