Lonnie Worth Hudson, Jr., 93, a longtime resident of Raleigh, NC, died peacefully on March 16, 2015, at his home in Charlottesville, VA, where he had lived since July 2014 to be closer to one of his two beloved daughters. He was a retired vice president of Wheat, First Securities; a veteran of World War II; a 1948 graduate of Duke University; and a loving and devoted husband, father, grandfather, and friend.
Mr. Hudson was born February 27, 1922, in Surry County, NC, the only son and first-born child of Lonnie Worth Hudson, Sr., and Lonia Macy Hudson. As a toddler, he moved to the small town of Fieldale, VA, where his father found work in the newly built textile mill. Mr. Hudson frequently extolled the virtues of his idyllic small-town boyhood, in which he was educated in a school for all grades, played baseball, made lifelong friends who nicknamed him “Hunk,” and worked several part-time jobs during the Depression, including delivering newspapers, cleaning the town pool hall, and being a “soda jerk” in the drugstore.
After graduation from Fieldale High School, Mr. Hudson attended Appalachian State Teacher’s College (now Appalachian State University) for several semesters. As with millions of others, the trajectory of Mr. Hudson’s life was forever changed by being drafted into the U.S. Army during World War II. He served as a sergeant in the 1267th Combat Engineer Battalion, both in Europe and in the Philippines. He chose to focus his war memories and stories on his positive experiences, including the beauty of the Cotswolds in England, the pleasures of French wine, the camaraderie of Army buddies from all parts of the U.S., helping both friends and strangers, and discovering the good in people of all nations.
Upon his return from the service and with the benefit of the GI Bill, he entered Duke University, to which he had aspired but considered out of financial reach before the war. The academic excellence, architectural beauty of the campus, and athletic prowess of its football and basketball teams would be a focus of admiration and pride for Mr. Hudson as a 1948 alumnus throughout the rest of his life, and he remained close friends with several of his brothers in the Kappa Sigma fraternity until they preceded him in death.
After graduating from Duke with a degree in Business Administration, Mr. Hudson began work in business operations at DuPont in Martinsville, VA. At DuPont, he was introduced to Ruth Snapp, a beautiful chemical lab assistant and talented musician working with his best friend. After a whirlwind courtship, Mr. and Mrs. Hudson were married in 1950 in Martinsville.
In 1953 the two were transferred to a new DuPont plant in Kinston, NC, where daughters Caroline and Elizabeth were born. In this small eastern North Carolina town, the two made many good friends and bought their first home. While in Kinston, Mr. Hudson attended St. Mary’s Episcopal Church and was active in the local political and business community with the goal of successful growth of the town. He also grew prize-winning roses.
Seeking a career change and more educational and cultural opportunities for his daughters, Mr. Hudson and his family moved to Raleigh in 1969, where they joined the Church of the Good Shepherd. Mr. Hudson began work as a stockbroker and investment advisor, which he continued until his retirement from Wheat, First Securities in 1997 at the age of 75. His years in Raleigh were marked not only by his successful professional endeavors, but also extensive vegetable gardening, supporting a love of horseback riding in his daughters, caring for his own parents and aunt until their deaths, and training English setters and pointers for bird hunting. He was an avid outdoorsman who also enjoyed hiking and canoeing, and his favorite getaway was the mountains of western North Carolina.
In retirement Mr. Hudson established bluebird houses on the beautiful golf course at Duke University and, with friends, founded a small library for the village of Blue Grass, VA, for which he solicited many donations of books, computers, and funding to provide an after-school alternative for students in Highland County, VA. He also made a road trip to Montana to enjoy bird hunting with a good friend and a good dog.
Mr. Hudson was an avid reader and proponent of lifelong learning, and he eagerly awaited the dawn delivery of the News and Observer so that he could read the news and do the crossword puzzle. He was a lover of American history, and an admirer of the Founding Fathers. His death within walking distance of the Rotunda at the University of Virginia is fitting given his admiration for its architect, Thomas Jefferson.
He was a lively storyteller in the southern tradition and had an uncanny memory for people, their lives, and events. When sitting at the dinner table or beside a warm fire, he began many sentences with the phrase, “I never shall forget…,” and in fact he never did. Likewise, his family shall never forget his stories and the love and loyalty he bestowed upon them throughout his life.
Mr. Hudson was predeceased by his parents and his sisters, Cornelia (“Connie”) Hudson Holder and Wileane Hudson Toothaker. He is survived by his loving wife of 64 years, Ruth Snapp Hudson; two daughters, Caroline Hudson Lock and her husband Robert C. Lock, of Greensboro, NC, and Elizabeth Hudson Willingham of Crozet, VA; and a cherished granddaughter, Rebecca Hudson Willingham of Chicago, IL.
Mr. Hudson’s family extends heartfelt thanks to Dr. Seki Balogun, Pam Tombs, and the many devoted caregivers who cared for him as his health declined, most especially to Bernadette Stokes, and to the staff and caregivers at ComforCare in Raleigh, CareAdvantage in Charlottesville, Martha Jefferson House in Charlottesville, and Hospice of the Piedmont.
A memorial service celebrating the life of Lonnie Hudson will take place Saturday, March 21, at 11:00 a.m. at Grace Episcopal Church, 5607 Gordonsville Road in Keswick, VA, with the Rev. G. Miles Smith officiating. Friends and family are invited to visit with the family at a luncheon in the church Parish Hall immediately following the service.
A graveside service and interment of Mr. Hudson’s ashes will take place Monday, March 23, at 11:00 a.m. at Oakwood Cemetery, 701 Oakwood Avenue, Raleigh, NC, with the Rev. Ginny Bain Inman officiating. In accordance with Mr. Hudson’s wishes, the family will also scatter ashes in Blue Grass, VA, at a later date.
In lieu of flowers, contributions in Mr. Hudson’s memory may be made to the Duke Cancer Institute (cancer.dukemedicine.org/cancer/about/giving/about-us/), 710 W. Main Street, Suite 200, Durham, NC 27701.
Condolences may be offered to the family at teaguefuneral home.com