By Mick Holien
Imo The state’s first female Governor might well have been ahead of her time.
And Judy Martz, who died last week at the age of 74, broke unlikely ground long before Gov Marc Racicot tabbed her to also be the state’s first distaff Lt Governor in 1996.
Before her foray into politics Martz was a member of the 63 world speed skating team and qualified as a member of 64 U.S. Olympic team at the 64 games at Innsbruck, Austria.
Although Martz grew up in the Mining City, she oddly was another product of Big Timber, the Rosebud County seat with about 1600 residents is the early residence of Brent Musburger, the home of the sports oriented family of Haucks.
Martz was an Olympian, a rodeo queen, the first female Lt Governor and finally Montana’s initial distaff chief executive.
Diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2014 when I last talked to her at childhood friend Sgt Sonny Gratzer’s Missoula funeral in mid December I told her she looked terrific as she continued to fight a more thn three year seige.
I first met the afflable former governor in 1988 when I was board chair she presented me with a state-wide award from the Montana American Red Cross. She honestly looked no different some 30 years later.
She sometimes talked about if not for his untimely death, she may have been Mrs Wayne Estes, the Anaconda legend and Utah Statte basketball star who was killed attempting to move an electrical line at a car accident
A member of the state Cowboy Hall of Fame, she was named Miss Rodeo Montana in 1962.
In 2000 Martz was elected the state’s 22nd governor after serving as Lt Governor for Marc Racicot, who was term limited.
She immediately inherited a $230 million deficit.
And Besides the deficit her term was marred with the death of House Majority Leader Paul Sliter in a wreck while coming from a party fundraiser. No charges were ever brought against the drunken driver.
The death of Martz marked the second of recent occupants of the Gov’a mansion as Mary Stephens, 90, wife of Gov Stan, also died. This week