Charlie Judson: A Life Well Spent
By Matt Solis, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter
SEBASTOPOL – Charlie Judson didn’t expect to find a career in water treatment when he was a young geology student at Santa Rosa Junior College—like many students, he was simply looking for a way to make some extra money when he stumbled upon an industry that would eventually become his life’s work. “I answered an ad for a company that was looking for someone to install water filters, which I had some experience with, and I ended up working there for a couple years and learning the basics of the business,” he remembers. “I found the water quality part of the job extremely interesting and challenging, both in terms of what makes water safe for human consumption and what makes it usable for industrial processes. From there, I did some consulting work and managed a water treatment dealership in Santa Rosa for about five years. I came to Weeks in 1984…and I’ve been here ever since.”
Much like his profession, Charlie’s permanent Sonoma County residence was the result of a serendipitous series of events rather than a predetermined plan. “My family moved around a lot when I was young, so when I landed in Sonoma County in 1974 it was quite by accident,” he explains. “I was en route to Humboldt State because I’d been accepted in their geology program, and I stopped to visit my sister in Sebastopol first. She said, ‘Why would you go to the trouble of doing your undergraduate work all the way up there when we have this great junior college?’ So that’s how I ended up here, and I just never left.”
Charlie’s initial reasons for staying in Sonoma County were purely practical, but after living in the Bay Area for nearly four decades, he says he’s come to appreciate many other aspects of Northern California life. “I love the highly variable climate and easy access to remote places for hiking and camping. My family and I do a lot of river rafting trips—we’ve rafted the Eel River for the past 25 years, and it’s one of our favorite annual traditions. Even though there are about 8 million people living in the Bay Area, we can drive six hours, spend four or five days on the river and not see another soul.”
Charlie’s family doesn’t just accompany him on various outdoor excursions—his wife and two sons have all been involved with Weeks Drilling & Pump Company’s operations over the years. “My oldest son works for us as a water treatment facility operator, and my wife is in charge of compliance issues for regulated water systems that we deal with,” he explains. “Sebastopol actually has the highest per capita number of private wells of any zip code in California, so there’s plenty of work for a company like ours, and I’m glad my family has been able to experience that.”
When he’s not helping homeowners and businesses regulate their water systems, Charlie spends as much time as possible exploring his other passion: landscape photography. “I’ve been photographing landscapes for a long time, and ever since I moved to digital 10 years ago, I’m able to do the entire process myself, from snapping the shutter to making the print,” he says. “I particularly enjoy making large prints, and I have many displayed throughout my house. In fact, my wife jokes that I only shoot in order to feed my printing habit!”
Charlie is content with the stability of Weeks Drilling & Pump Company and the prospect of working in Sonoma County for many years, but when it comes to the subject of retirement, he has some specifics in mind. “I would grab my wife and dog, jump into our camper, and head for the desert,” he laughs. “Of course, I can’t forget the camera. Actually, I might have to come back from the desert to make some prints!”
Ask Me Anything!
Q: Who is your favorite musician?
A: I love Bob Dylan in all his incarnations. I also like Eric Clapton and ’80s rock like Bon Jovi.
Q: Are you an early bird or a night owl?
A: An early bird. I always get up early, and I’m never the last one at the party.
Q: If you could time travel, would you go to the past or the future?
A: Definitely the future—that’s where the unknown is. There may be a lot we don’t know about the past, but it’s over and done with. I would much rather shoot forward and be surprised.
Q: What’s your favorite holiday?
A: Thanksgiving. Even though my family is scattered these days, we always try to get together for Thanksgiving dinner.
Q: If you had a theme song, what would it be?
A: “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” by Bobby McFerrin…although that’s more of a theme to live up to than one I’ve been able to achieve!
Q: Dogs or cats?
A: Dogs. We have two Jack Russell Terriers named Jade and Chico and a Border Collie named Levi.
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