Rest in Peace, Big Sky Lady

By: 
Sid Napier

 

 

Judy Martz, Montana’s first lady governor, died Monday, Oct. 30. She died at 74 after a lengthy battle with pancreatic cancer. I first met Judy when she was campaigning for governor in 2000. She came to Lewistown and was hitting the manufacturing plants and businesses in her quest to be Montana’s next governor. When she came to visit my place of employment, they gathered all the employees, and she gave a little pitch on voting for her. Someone told her that I wrote songs and was a performer here in Lewistown. They produced a guitar and I was asked to play her one of my original songs. Since I was put on the spot, I went ahead and performed an original. She was appreciative and asked if I would consider writing her a campaign song. I told her to have her publicity manager get a hold of me, and I would consider it.

This was in the spring and I did not hear from anyone in her organization. I was also doing river guide service on the Upper Missouri Wild and Scenic River, and was gone from Lewistown from time-to-time. When I came back to work, I was told Judy Martz had been back to look me up to see how the song was coming. Needless to say, I had not started it because I never heard back from her camp. I did begin to look into her career and was amazed at this lady’s track record. She was from Big Timber, Montana, and was Miss Rodeo Montana in 1962. She attended Eastern Montana College (now Montana State University – Billings) and worked as a field representative for former Senator Conrad Burns. She also competed as a speed skater and represented the United States in the 1964 Olympics. She was our lieutenant governor back then.

I became interested in writing a song about her, and I did just that. The name of the song is “Big Sky Lady” and in it, I chronicled her life, but I give tribute to her being Montana’s first woman governor. I would go on to record the song and I sent a copy to her. She was surprised and loved the song. She wrote me back and said what an honor it was to have a song written about her.

After being elected governor, she would make her first trip to Lewistown and the annual banquet for the Lewistown Chamber of Commerce. I was to perform the song “live” for her, but I could not make it at the last minute, because of a family emergency back in my home state of Kentucky. Pete Smith made a presentation of the song, by CD, on my behalf at the banquet. She was elated to say the least, and sent me a letter (see below). I would perform it “live” for her at the Elks Club months later.

I found Judy Martz a very honest and spiritual person. She was governor during a hard time, and you either liked her politics or you did not. I had nothing but respect for her, and I felt she had a deep caring for people. I’ll close with the chorus, from my song, “Big Sky Lady.”

“Big Sky Lady, our first woman governor you see. Big Sky Lady, is now a part of our history.”

Rest in Peach, Judy.

 

Letter from Governor Judy Martz

Mr. Sid Napier

February 15, 2001

 

Dear Sid,

I loved my song (your song)! I was so sorry you weren’t there to hear how well this was received. I’ll stop to say thanks in person when I get back that way.

Again, I love it! Don’t change a thing.

Sincerely,

Judy Martz

 

Sid Napier is a local musician and resident of Lewistown.

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