Cover photo for Judd Cates's Obituary
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Judd Cates

December 10, 1939 — March 16, 2024

Judd Cates

Judd Cates, age 84, of Stillwater, Minnesota passed away peacefully on March 16th, 2024. He was born on December 10th, 1939 to Leroy and Elsie (Ulrich) Cates. He was the youngest of five children. He had four older sisters, Delilah, Patricia, Virginia, and Audrey, who always tried to keep him in line!

He grew up in the heart of Stillwater, formed lifelong friends, fished the St Croix River, and wrestled for Stillwater High School. Judd immediately joined the United States Navy upon graduating from high school. He was a signalman on a destroyer that toured the Mediterranean Sea from 1959 - 1963. His children and grandchildren enjoyed the stories Judd would tell of his time on the ship and in the ports.

He married Julie Molitor, a high school sweetheart, on June 18, 1960. They welcomed four children from 1961 to 1970 - Shawn Marie, Judd Lenord (Jay), Jennifer Lynn, and Jeffrey Alan.

Upon returning from the Navy he worked as a prison guard at the Stillwater Prison and he enrolled in trade school for carpentry. He worked at Art Johnson St Croix Valley Homes where he continued to hone his carpentry skills. In 1970 he started his own company with his partner Ted Letournia called The Carpenters. That company with Judd's hard work, passion, and high level of craftsmanship led to what is now Cates Fine Homes.

While raising their children, Judd and Julie were never far from Julie's sister Lynette and her husband John. Amazing family times and lots of laughs were had at each other's homes. They saw to it their children were raised with their cousins, enjoying holidays, the beach, sporting events, and always a lot of sleepovers.

Judd encouraged his children to enjoy the outdoors and athletics. And you'd often find Judd fishing from a boat or an ice shack. Fishing with his sons and friends at Silver Water Wheel in Canada was a favorite annual event. He caught memorable and "monster" Walleye and Northern Pike while on those trips. Another constant in Judd's life for many years was sharing family time and solitude at his cabin on Spirit Lake in Frederic, WI.

His pride and joy were his 10 grandsons; Brett, Justin, Elliot, Parker, Blake, Devin, Jackson, Noah, Gavin, and Gustav. He was proud of each of his grandsons for who they had grown to be. Judd also cherished the time he had with his two great- grandchildren; Levi and Sawyer.

He particularly enjoyed watching Jay and Jeff play hockey. The story goes that Judd brought Jay to his first practice as a mite with his shin guards strapped to the outside of his socks... How far the Cates hockey clan has come.

Way too early, Judd lost Julie to cancer in 1998. After a long period of grief, he began to enjoy himself again and was fortunate to meet the second love of his life, Vonnie Witucki. Judd and Vonnie enjoyed many years of fun, traveling, and spending time with family and friends. In 2019, he lost Vonnie way too early as well.

Judd is preceded in death by Julie, his wife, Vonnie his significant other, his parents Leroy and Elsie Cates, and his sisters Dehlia Evert, Patricia Ponath, Audrey Cates, and Virgina Ritzer. He is survived by his children: Shawn (Kelly), Jay (Deb), Jennifer (Marty), and Jeff (Jenny) as well as his grandsons Brett, Justin, Elliot, Parker, Blake, Devin, Jackson, Noah, Gavin, and Gustav, great-grandsons Levi and Sawyer and many nieces and nephews.

A gathering to honor Judd's life will be held at Bradshaw Funeral Home, 2800 Curve Crest Blvd., Stillwater, Minnesota on Thursday, March 28th with visitation at 4:00 PM, memorial service at 5:30 PM with appetizers, drinks and desserts to follow.

A lifelong residence of Stillwater, the Cates family prefers in lieu of flowers a memorial donation in Judd's name to the endowed fund at the Stillwater Area Community Foundation.

Past Services

Visitation

Thursday, March 28, 2024

4:00 - 5:30 pm (Central time)

Bradshaw Celebration of Life Center - Stillwater

2800 Curve Crest Blvd, Stillwater, MN 55082

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Memorial Service

Thursday, March 28, 2024

Starts at 5:30 pm (Central time)

Bradshaw Celebration of Life Center - Stillwater

2800 Curve Crest Blvd, Stillwater, MN 55082

Get Directions

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

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