By R.V. Baugus and Mark Mettes, Jr.
The Herberger Theater, alongside more than 15 Arizona arts organizations, will honor the life of Judd Herberger with a dimming of the theater lights at 7:15 pm on Friday, November 5. Judd Herberger, longtime arts philanthropist and beloved member of the community, passed away on October 27, 2021.
The tradition of dimming the lights pays tribute to the life of celebrated artists who have passed away. For a few moments, the marquees and facades of theatres dim to symbolize a light going out in the community.
“Most of our staff and volunteers met Judd or knew him well since Judd and his wife Billie Jo spent countless weekends here at the theater enjoying performances and events,” said Mark Mettes, CVE, President and CEO of Herberger Theater Center. “They often said that our Festival of the Arts and Wolf Trap programs were among their favorites.
“Recently, a few of us were fortunate to have visited with Judd and Billie Jo in their home. As I think about that priceless visit, I’m reminded of the lyrics to a song I heard recently, “If I only knew the last time would be the last time.”
“Judd’s passion for the performing arts and love for the theater was put on display each and every day. He was determined to fulfill the vision his parents, Bob and Kax Herberger, had for the arts community in Arizona. Each time he met with theater leadership to discuss current successes, emotion would overcome him knowing that the Herberger Theater, in its present state, would have made his parents proud.”
The arts community from across the valley will honor Judd’s legacy in this collective effort to commemorate Judd’s life and pay homage to the Herberger family. These organizations include Herberger Theater Center, Arizona Theatre Company, Childsplay, iTheatre Collaborative, Arizona Broadway Theatre, Ballet Arizona, Chandler Center for the Arts, Phoenix Theatre Company, Valley Youth Theatre, Theater Works, Southwest Shakespeare, Symphony Hall, Orpheum Theatre, ASU School of Music, Dance and Theatre, Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, and Scottsdale Arts Canal Convergence.
While the true reach of Judd Herberger and the Herberger family’s support is incalculable, it is well known across the arts community that their support has made a difference in the success of many organizations and touched the lives of countless people who have had the ability to experience the arts as a direct result of their efforts. Without Billie Jo and Judd Herberger and the Herberger family’s commitment to creating and maintaining the first major theatres and arts organizations in Arizona, the arts community would not be what it has become today.
Billie Jo and Judd Herberger were often nominated as honorary chairs of major arts and philanthropic events. In October of 2019, Billie Jo and Judd were inducted into the Herberger Performing and Broadcast Arts Hall of Fame for their commitment to the arts. The couple joined Judd’s parents, Bob and Kax Herberger, who were inducted posthumously into the Hall of Fame in 2005.
The Herberger Theater extends its deepest condolences to the family of Judd Herberger and invites organizations to join in solidarity as it dims the lights on Friday evening.
Mark Mettes Jr. is Marketing Manager for Herberger Theater Center.
Photo by Herberger Theater Center