James Patrick Judge Sr., a 78-year-old resident of Dunedin, Florida, entrepreneur, construction pioneer, inventor and U.S. patentholder, died Dec. 29 at Melech Hospice House in Temple Terrace, Florida, following a continued decline in his health over the last year.

Judge, who was born in Waukegan, Illinois, in 1945, moved to Sarasota, Florida, with his family in 1959 and formed Judge Construction in the mid-1960s.

The company operated throughout Florida’s booming construction era from the 1960s until the 1980s.

Judge Construction quickly became one of the largest concrete pumping companies in the southeastern U.S. and pumped the concrete needed for the construction of many iconic Florida landmarks, including Walt Disney World, Epcot, Crystal River Nuclear Power Plant, Turkey Point Nuclear Power Plant, the Skyway Bridge, Tampa Stadium, Raymond James Stadium, Busch Gardens, Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, Tampa International Airport and many of the high-rises, which make up the skylines of Tampa, Miami, Orlando and Jacksonville to this day.

One of Judge’s most cherished construction projects was when his company was contracted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to travel to San Juan, Puerto Rico, to help with developing and executing a plan to save the famed 16th-century Spanish fort Castillo San Felipe del Morro, known to San Juan locals as El Morro. Judge Construction pumped concrete in strategic locations around the base of the fort to help prevent further tidal erosion.

After Judge Construction was sold in the 1980s, James and his brother Tom started a new company called PUMPS Inc., which began to manufacture smaller, towable concrete pumps. The company’s signature achievement was the development of the P-88 concrete pump. James and Tom sold the company in 1991 to Schwing America.

In 2000, Schwing announced at the World of Concrete convention in Orlando that the P-88 concrete pump had become the largest-selling small-line concrete pump in the world. That same year, Judge was presented the Pioneer Award by the American Concrete Pumping Association for his lifetime contributions to the industry.

Following the sale of PUMPS Inc., Judge and his brothers formed a smaller concrete pumping company called Concrete Pump Dispatch Inc., which was based in Safety Harbor, Florida. CPDI specialized in providing concrete pumping services locally throughout the Tampa Bay area and also for larger commercial projects, including military bases across the southeastern U.S.

CPDI operated until early 2023, when the brothers retired and the company was dissolved.

“Dad loved the challenges and adventures of starting businesses and traveling the world, and he loved living in the Tampa Bay area, particularly Dunedin, and watching the city’s transformation over the past 30 years,” said James P. Judge Jr. “If you knew him, you also know he was proud of the concrete work his company did with the University of Florida. He was a Gator Booster and season ticket holder for decades, and he remained a loyal Florida Gator football fan until the day he passed.”

More than any of that, though, he loved his family.

Judge Sr. is survived by his three children, Anastasia Judge-Arauz, who is a licensed family therapist in Jacksonville, North Carolina; Alexandria Judge-Lenkeit, who is a school administrator for Wake County Public Schools in Raleigh, North Carolina; and Judge Jr., who is a Tampa Bay-area small business owner and was the Republican nominee for Florida’s 14th Congressional District in 2022.

Before his passing, Judge Sr. proclaimed Jesus Christ as Lord of his life, repented his sins and received Holy Communion from Father Krzysztof of Sacred Heart in Dade City, Florida.

“While we’re certainly sad to lose him, his story does have a happy ending,” Judge Jr. said. “We are grateful that his suffering here on earth is over and to know that we will see him again in heaven. We’re also extremely thankful for the outpouring of prayers and support our family has received from our friends and the community.”

The funeral service is scheduled to be held on Thursday, Jan. 4 at 10:30 a.m. at Espiritu Santo Catholic Church in Safety Harbor.