Charles ‘Chuck' Luedke

2012-01-08T00:00:00Z Charles ‘Chuck' Luedke The Billings Gazette
January 08, 2012 12:00 am

Chuck was born in Saltese, Mont., and was the second of four children born to Charles and Mae Luedke. The family moved to Missoula, Mont., shortly after he was born. Chuck spent his early years working in the family grocery store, the OK Trading Company, as a stock and delivery boy. His love of woodworking was sparked at an early age through his first wood turning lathe and was a passion he carried throughout his life. After graduation from Missoula High School in 1937, he worked as the morning news announcer at the local Missoula radio station while attending the University of Montana. In June of 1941, he was drafted into the Army where upon completion of basic training he was selected as an Infantry instructor. He later applied for and was accepted into officer training and the Army Air Corps. After graduation from pilot training, he was assigned as an aircraft commander in the B-25 with the "Flying Tigers" in the 11th Bomb Squadron of the 14th Air Force in Kweilin, China. During the year and a half with the "Flying Tigers" he flew 58 combat missions and attained the rank of Captain before returning to the States and being discharged at the end of World War II.

After returning home, he put himself through Law School at the University of Montana with the use of the GI Bill and work as a semi-professional magician. He graduated from Law School in 1949 and entered private practice in Missoula. In 1953, he moved to Billings and started a practice in the field of oil and gas.

In early 1957, he was introduced to his future wife, Mary "Robin" Kuhne by a mutual friend. They were married in June of 1957 and had one son, Bret.

Chuck remained active in magic and was the originator and first president of Ring 153 of the International Brotherhood of Magicians in Billings. He was active in the civic community as a long time member of the Billings Elks Club and as the President of the Billings Chamber of Commerce in 1961.

In 1967, he was appointed by Governor Tim Babcock to the bench as a Judge of The District Court in the Thirteenth Judicial District of the State of Montana. He served on the bench for nearly 20 years, retiring in 1986. Upon retirement, he was honored by the Yellowstone County Bar Association "For his fairness, integrity and commitment to the highest standards of judicial decision making."

He remained active in retirement volunteering at the Parmly Billings Library as a bookbinder for the next 18 years. He was an avid fan and supporter of the Billings Mustangs and could often be found in his box seat behind home plate cheering them on. He continued to pursue and foster interests as a clockmaker, clock repairman, metal worker and vegetable gardener (much to the delight of his neighbors).

Charles was a loving father who taught by example and believed if something was worth doing, then it was worth doing it right. He was not one to seek help, but was always willing to give it. He touched many people during his professional and personal life and he will be greatly missed.

A special thank you is given to the caring staffs at The Vista and St. Johns Transitional Care Cottage for their excellent care and compassion.

He is survived by his son Bret; daughter-in-law Ruth; granddaughter Heather; and sisters June Webb and Virginia Even. Cremation has taken place.

At his request, no funeral or memorial service will be held. Donations may be made on-line to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) at www.jdrf.org, select "Get Involved" select "Ways to Donate" and select "Make a Memorial Donation" or call JDRF at 1-800-533-2873.

Arrangements are by Cremation and Funeral Gallery. Condolences may be sent to the family through "Our Families" at www.cfgbillings.com.

Copyright 2014 The Billings Gazette. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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