Judd S. Alexander
Growing up in Wausau as the son of a highly successful lumberman, entrepreneur and community leader carried with it some pretty high expectations. But Judd Strobridge Alexander, son of Walter and Sarah Alexander, embraced the challenge — working very hard to become a well-respected business and community leader in his own right.
Born March 3, 1877, Judd’s boyhood experiences were very similar to most other young boys in Wausau thanks to his parents’ values of hard work, concern for others and an extraordinary strong sense of community. Young Judd made many friends during his youth and retained those friends throughout his adult years by taking a genuine interest in their lives and families.
After graduating from Wausau High School, Judd attended the Shattuck Military Academy in Faribault, Minnesota. Upon his graduation from Shattuck in 1900, he returned to Wausau and joined one of the many companies his father started, the Alexander-Stewart Lumber Company. Eager to make it on his own, Judd started as a laborer in the mill and worked his way up to assistant secretary.
His sense of business and leadership skills quickly earned him a respected role in the enterprising Wausau Group which helped establish and guide the success of many Wausau area businesses like Employers Mutual Liability Company of Wausau, Wausau Paper Company and Marathon Electric Manufacturing Corporation—businesses that ultimately became national companies. Judd Alexander personally directed the growth and early success of Marathon Electric serving as the company’s first president from 1913-1940. Today, the company is a subsidiary of Regal-Beloit Corporation and looking forward to celebrating its 100th year in 2013.
When he passed away in 1948 at the age of 71, Judd Alexander was still extremely active and a vital force in many business organizations. At the time of his death, he was president of the Walter Alexander Company and chairman of the board at Marathon Electric while serving as a director on the boards of Employers Mutual Liability Insurance Company (which later became Wausau Insurance, now part of Liberty Mutual), the Wisconsin Valley Electric Company, Wisconsin Valley Trust, the Marathon Lumber Company, Marathon Battery Company and the Marathon Corporation. And that’s not all. At the same time, he held a board position in the Western Exploration Company, Ltd. In Silverton, B.C., Canada; served as treasurer of both D.J. Murray Manufacturing Corporation and Wausau Auto Supply; and was a vice president of Montana Dakota Utilities, the Alexander-Yawkey Lumber Company and the Yawkey Bissell Lumber Company. He also served as president of the Pioneer Ranch Company, Inc. in Lewistown, Montana until the time of his death.
Judd Alexander loved farming and ranching, too. In his later years, he oversaw his father’s dairy farm and helped turn the Bonniedoon Farm into one of the area’s leading breeders of award-winning Guernsey dairy cows, which he sold for very nominal prices to his fellow area farmers to ensure a thriving Marathon County dairy industry.
Judd enjoyed his memberships in the Wausau Country Club, the Wausau Club, the Wausau Rotary Club, the Elks, the Wisconsin Valley Shrine Club and other fraternal and social organizations. He frequently volunteered his leadership talents to help improve and expand those clubs. He also belonged to the Plum Lake Golf Club, the Milwaukee Athletic Club and the Wisconsin Park and Recreation Society.
Judd Alexander played a significant role in the growth of his hometown’s economic development, but he also contributed a great deal to the area’s quality of life. He served as president of the park board and on the city’s planning commission for many years—always striving to ensure a reasonable balance of green space and development. Judd and his brother Ben donated the land and guided development of the Alexander Municipal Airport, now Wausau’s downtown airport. Judd also supported the Wausau Chamber of Commerce, served on the board of Wausau Memorial Hospital (now known as Aspirus Hospital) and led the budget committee of the Wausau Community Chest (now the United Way of Marathon County) for 17 years.
Judd Alexander loved Wausau as a community--not just as a place for business opportunities. In 1919, he married Anne MacKay in Pasadena, California and brought her home to Wausau. Together, and in many different ways, they spent their lives helping others and caring for the community they both cherished.