Kenneth N. Judson, 87, of Oak Bluffs, passed away peacefully in his sleep on Feb. 28, 2023, at Royal Health in Falmouth.
Ken was born in 1935 in Auburn, Maine, the son of William and Ethel Judson. He excelled in academics and sports in high school, and was an Eagle Scout. An avid adventurer throughout his life, Ken wanted to experience as much as possible during his time on Earth. His greatest passions were reading books, writing stories, and photography.
Regardless of where on the globe Ken’s path led, periods of time on Martha’s Vineyard were a thread woven throughout his travels.
After high school, Ken 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, where he graduated with a degree in history.
Ken 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, quite frankly, he got bored with it. Having natural charisma and amazing social skills, Ken went back into sales. It allowed him to travel wherever he liked and to interact with people — something he truly enjoyed.
Ken first moved to the Western U.S., 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. Due to his constant and boundless travels, his family affectionately nicknamed him “Polo.”
An avid writer throughout his life, Ken spent much of his time incorporating his travels and experiences into short stories. He brought his characters vividly to life in his writings. From his experiences as a bar bouncer in Detroit’s impoverished Cass Corridor in the 1970s to his days in postwar Vietnam, speaking 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 seventies, 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.; his 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, confidant, and lifelong companion, Nathalie Woodruff of Oak Bluffs.
Throughout his life, Ken 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. So In lieu of flowers, please grab your favorite beverage, hoist your glass, and toast: “Polo!”