Images by Blakeney Cox
In the 1980s Jud Allen was king. For years he held the coveted title of Youngest Child. With his only brother, Matt the Elder, he would be forever unchallenged. The world was his oyster.
Then one day a new king arose, Hunter the Usurper—his little brother. “I thought I was gonna be the youngest child for awhile,” Jud grins. “I liked that.”
Flash forward twenty-eight years. The former king is now an attorney. Leaning back in his office chair at Jackson, Fikes, and Brakefield, Jud casually smooths his tie. For the next hour, the grin rarely leaves his face. He reminds one of an oak tree, and not because of his stature. In the dictionary his photo is next to the word unflappable.
When Jud was about ten, his parents bought a house on Academy Hill. “It was a neat old place, about thirty acres of woods in the middle of town,” Jud says. “My boss, Eddie Jackson, built a house next to us. His kids grew up there and we had wars all over the woods, with fireworks and pellet guns. It was a great place to grow up.”
In the Dark Ages, before cell phones, Xboxes, and iPads, young people ventured outdoors. “Back then, all you did was play outside, ride bicycles all over the place, and catch crawdads across the creek,” Jud says. “I’d take my bike over to Forrest Park, and we’d ride up to what they called Devil’s Ladder, which was on Blackwater. That’s a pretty good trip when you’re twelve years old. We’d hang out there all day, carve our names in rocks. It was fun being independent a little bit.”
At Walker High, Jud played all kind of sports. “Back then you played every sport,” he says. “I was always the biggest kid in my class. That helped me athletically.”
He also played tennis with his parents. Once they were named Tennis Family of the Year. By his early teens, Jud was giving lessons. “I’ve been teaching tennis for over twenty years now,” he says. “I was always ranked fairly high in the state. We won the state championship my senior year at Walker.”
Sports was not his only strong suit. His report cards were consistently lined with rows of A’s. “I was scared my dad would whip me if I didn’t do as good as I could,” Jud says. “I put a lot of pressure on myself but it paid off.”
Upon being awarded a year’s scholarship to Alabama, Jud majored in accounting. “I understood how easy school was,” he says. “If you worked and went to class, school’s pretty easy because it’s not a full workday.”
He liked being a student. Near the end of his junior year, Jud made a life-altering decision. “I decided to go to law school,” he says. “Three more years of school was better than starting work. A law degree back then could help you in any field.”
For decades, lawyers have been fodder for late-night comedians’ jokes, frequently compared to bloodthirsty sharks and parasites. Judd says most of that criticism is undeserved. “Don’t judge the whole group by one bad apple,” he says. “Lawyers get a bad name, and some are bad ones, but there are also good ones.”
In his spare time, Jud works with local organizations. He is the District Chairman for the Mountain District of the Boy Scouts of America, serves on the board for Project Community, a young adult charity program for the Walker Area Community Foundation, is president of Friends of Downtown Jasper, and serves on the Walker County Humane Society board.
Recently Jud found a new passion—growing tomatoes. Ironically, he’s not fond of them. “I don’t like ‘em, but I like to grow them and give them away,” he says. “One of my favorite things is giving them away. I can’t give away money so I give away something, and I like to see people like what I have. People just love tomatoes around here. Boy, that’s like the best thing in the world. Everybody’s talking about tomato sandwiches, even in the winter.”
An avid dog lover, Jud and his wife Megan share their twenty acre farm with four dogs. Boots and Bailey are mixed breeds, and Cooper is a chocolate Lab. Then there’s their Yorkie, Reese (“Reesie”), aka “Roo” or “Roosephine.” “That one came with the wife, but she’s with me now,” Jud grins. “She’s my dog now.”
How does he manage four dogs? “I would have more if I could afford them,” he shrugs. “Some people say I ruin dogs because I don’t work them, but I have a dog as a companion. I don’t mind them jumping up on me or sleeping in the bed.”
Thus sayeth Jud, the Unflappable. 78