Dick Judisch Memorial Fund


Richard Amos "Dick" Judisch

3/11/1921 - 2/1/2008

The story of Dick Judisch’s life is an archetypical example of the proud yet modest American that Tom Brokaw writes about in his book “The Greatest Generation.” Raised on a farm near LeClaire, Iowa by his father Ames, who was a large and powerful man, and his mother Bessie, who was of a modest stature Dick would say he more physically resembled. It was on the farm that Dick would nurture his lifelong love of animals. Like many other family farms of that era, the Judisch’s couldn’t make a profit during the Great Depression, and moved to Davenport when Dick was on his early Teens.

At Davenport High School Dick excelled in athletics and would captain the tennis team and win the City Championships. After graduating he got a job working for the railroad. His core values established, little would change Dick’s life from then forward. He would marry four different women, but his work ethic and passion for playing sports, especially tennis, would define him. Except that is, for that little war that flared up in Europe.

Dick served in eight campaigns during World War II. Most of which were under General George Patton’s command. From the amphibious landing in Casablanca to Tunis in North Africa, a desert hell when twice, as a member of the 65thArmoured Field Artillery, he would have to abandon his shot and disabled tank and run for his life. On both of those occasions, Dick would learn of the tragic fate of his buddies who chose to stay and take their chances against the superior German Panzers.

In Tunisia, at the end of that victorious campaign, he was again in the presence of Patton, who by now knew Dick by his nickname, Tony, after Tony Galento the boxer. In a moment of “military intelligence” the War Department sent a representative to Tunis to give the boys some marksmanship training. Well, Dick was an excellent shot, a skill not viewed amateurishly by a certain General and former Olympian (Patton placed 5th in the 1912 Stockholm Games in the Pentathlon). “Are you sure?” Dick asked Patton, with a tone respectfully seeking reassurance. “Damn right I’m sure,” Patton quipped, “you show this son-of-a-bitch what I think of his coming here and giving my men training after we just kicked the hell out of those krauts.” And with that; Patton took off his helmet; threw it up into the air, and as ordered, Dick plugged it as many times as he could before it hit the ground.

Then it was on to Sicily, a cakewalk compared to the conditions he had experienced in North Africa. Preparation for D-Day, in England and Ireland would be the only respite from fighting Dick would see in this war. Although the training was tough, at least it was a chance to add a few pounds to his parched, 140 lb frame. Dick supported the 101st Paratroopers at Normandy, but when Patton had his command reinstated in Europe, he promptly took Dick and the 65th with him in his march across France, Belgium, and Germany.

At least the food got better. There was a period of a couple of weeks, on the outskirts of Paris, with nightly forays into the city, while the American G.I.’s waited for the French soldiers to come up from the south to liberate their capital. The French army, according to Dick, never traveled without wine, women, and a goat! Finally, in Berlin, the Americans could have taken the German capital but were moved west, out of the city, to allow the Russians to have the purge that they had fought so long and hard for.

After the war was over, Dick would try his hand at playing baseball for a living. Peaking at the AAA level, he played for the Los Angeles Dodgers, who at that time were under the parent Brooklyn team. Although a .300 hitter, the rap on Dick was that he wasn’t a good enough glove for the Major Leagues. Realizing the money was better working a factory job than in baseball, Dick gave up playing ball and came home. For the next 20 years or so he would bounce around from job to job: Heinz, John Deere, International Harvester, wherever the money was better, he would go.  Finally around 1970 Dick took a job with Sivyer Steel in Bettendorf where he would work until forced into retirement in the late 1980’s at the age of 68. Never turning down an opportunity for overtime, he would at some point, start investing the extra cash in the stock market.

Most people who knew Dick Judisch knew him for his accomplishments on the tennis court. For 30 years he was a highly ranked player, not only locally (Dick won the QC Open Doubles title 17 years in a row) but regionally as well. Before the modern era of pro tennis began in 1968, professional tennis was a barnstorming series of exhibition type events and Dick often compete when touring pro’s came through the Midwest. Dick played many of the all time great players including Pancho Gonzales, Tony Trabert, Marty Riessen, and even a brash, young Jimmy Conners. There were many stories he like to tell, for example after Althea Gibson won Wimbledon in 1958, she went on a tour. Dick was contacted to play her in two matches on a slow clay court, not at all Gibson’s favorite surface. “She would hit that kick serve and come to net behind it, and on these rubico courts, well I just didn’t have any trouble with it,” Dick would say. After an embarrassing first encounter, Gibson chose not to play the second match. Even when he was well into his 50’s, Dick was competing with top players and winning tour moments.

Not just a player, tennis was Dick’s life. His house was a veritable tennis warehouse. Virtually every tennis aspiring baby boomer in the QC area brought their racquets, had them strung, and got their clothes, shoes, balls, sweatbands-you name it, they got it from Dick Judisch. It was a sad day when, sometime in the mid 1990’s the local zoning authorities put Dick out of business. After that, and when his playing days were finally over, Dick could be seen out with his dog “hunting cones”; “I’m a scrapper,” he would say.

Whether on the tennis court, at work, or in life he held fast to his core values. He was a tireless competitor and working man who never let up, and at the same time, a true gentleman. That is how, by all who knew him, Dick Judisch will be remembered. 

"It would have been a lot harder to go to school without the scholarship. It meant a lot less pressure."

Read more

Refer a friend to us

Know someone who would benefit from the expertise of our financial professionals at the Community Foundation? Refer them to us now!

Did You Know?

Charitable organizations in the Quad Cities that promote youth activities can apply for the Roy E. Murray Foundation Grant for Youth.
Read more