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Palmer Legacy Families

Palmer Legacy Families

Palmer chiropractic keeps families together.
Winter 2018

cover story

Dickerson, Judge, Heffron & Sheedy families are Palmer Proud

The Palmer chiropractic legacy in the Judge family began with a sister’s belief in the capabilities of her brother.

Judge family alumni at the Oct. 2006 Davenport campus graduation. Oct. 2006 graduate James E. Judge, D.C., is left of then-president Donald Kern, D.C., F.P.A.C., (front row, fourth from right) and fellow graduate Christopher Michael Judge, D.C., is on Dr. Kern’s right.
23 family members and Dr. Kern posing on stage with Christopher Michael Judge after graduation ceremony

Anne Judge lived in Davenport in the 1920s and went to a chiropractor. She had good results and decided being a chiropractor would be the perfect career for her brother, James B. Judge. Since he didn’t have tuition funds, Anne talked to B.J. Palmer, D.C., F.P.A.C. B.J. set up a payment plan for James to attend Palmer. James B. Judge, D.C., graduated from Palmer in 1925 as the first in the Judge family to become a chiropractor—thanks to his sister, Anne.

Since Dr. James Judge, there have been four generations of Palmer chiropractors in the family—more than 30 in total, including Palmer graduates by the name of Judge, Sheedy, Heffron and Dickerson. Michael Judge, D.C., Davenport ’73, of Albia, Iowa, is a third-generation Judge chiropractor. Why have many family members become Palmer chiropractors? “Tradition is the main thing,” he says. “That was always my guiding light. My cousin, William A. Heffron, D.C., Davenport ’60, inspired me to attend Palmer College in Davenport. When things got tough for me I thought of my family and their experiences. We’re Palmer Proud.”

Dr. William Heffron, who practices in Centerville, Iowa, says his influence on Dr. Michael’s decision to attend Palmer was minimal. “My uncle James E. Judge, D.C., Davenport ’54, graduated from Palmer,” he says. “Mary Judge Heffron was my mother. Mike has given me more credit than I deserve. He said he wanted to be a chiropractor, but was planning to attend a college in Missouri. I asked him if he wanted to go East to Palmer, why was he going South? Later he said my question turned him in the right direction.”

Dr. Michael Judge’s dad, John J. Judge, D.C., Davenport ’47, and his uncle, Tom Judge, D.C., Davenport ’51, were killed in a car accident in 1953 when Michael was six years old. “I wanted to do what my dad did; he was my inspiration,” Dr. Michael says. “He was very active in the profession; he served as the first president of the Prairie State Chiropractic Association in Illinois. I think if he’d lived he would have accomplished much more. Dr. B.J. Palmer was so affected by my dad and uncle’s deaths that the April 1954 graduating class at Palmer, which included their two brothers, Ed and Gene, and brother-in-law Merle Hodges, D.C., Davenport ’55, was called the Judge Memorial Class. That was a rare honor.”

Dr. Michael Judge started his practice in Illinois in 1974, then set up a practice in Albia, Iowa, in 1989. He and his family have lived in the town of about 3,800 since then. His wife, Donna, manages the practice.

“My dad told his brothers that you need to get involved in something bigger than you, and chiropractic is bigger than all of us,” Dr. Michael says. “I’m 71 and I love what I do. The fact that a patient can look at you right after an adjustment and tell you they feel better already—is incredible. It’s truly amazing what you can do with your hands and the gifts God gave you. Chiropractic is a terrific profession.”

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