The late Charles D. Hudson was a storyteller.
“He just loved people and enjoyed talking about his life,” said his daughter, Jane Alice Craig.
For almost a year before he died in January 2012, Hudson sat with LaGrange author Miriam Lukken and shared tales from his past. The result is a book, “My Life in Stories,” written by Hudson and edited by Lukken.
Born in LaGrange in 1927, Hudson was a businessman and community leader whose work touched every facet of life in LaGrange.
He served as chairman of the Board of Trustees at LaGrange College for 25 years, and as acting president from 1979-1980.
His life encompassed history that ranged from the Depression to man’s walk on the moon, from manual cash registers to computers, and from telephone numbers that consisted of only two figures to the wonders of the cell phone.
“There were a lot of stories to tell,” said Craig with a laugh.
However, the book was born out of a sad time. After his wife, Ida Callaway Hudson, passed away in 2009, Hudson lost his spark.
“He was missing Mama, feeling bad and not going out much,” Craig said. “I had to do something.”
That’s when she remembered the book “Water for Elephants.”
“The main character was an old man in a nursing home,” she said. “He was lonesome and miserable until he started telling stories about his life. I realized that might be something Daddy would like to do.”
So Craig contacted her good friend Lukken, who is a published author.
“I asked her if she would be willing to visit Daddy once a week to listen to his stories and put them in a book form. Thankfully, she said yes. And he loved it. It gave him something to look forward to and the chance to do something he really enjoyed – talking about himself and his life.”
The book was a true labor of love for Jane Alice Craig and her siblings – Ellen Harris, Ida Russell and Charles Hudson Jr.
“We told him it was our birthday gift to him,” Craig said.
After nine months of interviews followed by two years of gathering photos, writing and editing, “My Life in Stories” was published in 2013.
Lukken said Hudson was able to hear excerpts from a rough draft of the book before he passed away in January 2012.
“He knew he was dying,” she said. “The last week or two, Ida would sit by his bed and read it to him. I think he was pleased.”
Hudson’s community service spanned the city, county and state. He was on the Board of Trustees of Fuller E. Callaway… More > Foundation for 39 years, and was owner and president of Hammond, Hudson & Holder Insurance Agency. He served on the Georgia Board of Corrections for 24 years, including two terms as chairman, and was a founding member of the Troup County Historical Society and the LaGrange Art Museum.
He was on the boards of West Georgia Medical Center, Scottish Rite Hospital, the LaGrange Board of Education and LaGrange College, among others. He was honored as a Rotarian with 33 years of perfect attendance, earning the highest honors from the local, state and international Rotary organizations.
Craig said she was familiar with many of her father’s stories, but there were a few that were new to her.
“Some of my favorite ones were from his childhood and his growing up years in LaGrange,” she said. “And there were a lot of things he did before we children came along, like farming and owning a funeral home.”
Dan McAlexander, president of LaGrange College, said the book is a fitting tribute to the man who meant so much to the institution.
“It is a wonderful testament to a life dedicated to service,” McAlexander said. “I am filled with admiration for the way Jane Alice and her siblings helped their father find joy in his last years.”
More than a memoir, Lukken said the book is a testament to the legacy Charles Hudson left the community.
“He loved LaGrange and was passionate about making this a better place for everyone,” she said. “Of all of his endeavors, I think the thing he was most proud of was the Sims Scholarship.”
Begun in 1967, the scholarship covers all costs associated with nursing school. In return, the recipients agree to work at West Georgia Health in LaGrange for one to two years after they graduate, depending upon the duration of the scholarship. The award is funded by the Fuller E. Callaway Foundation and administered by the LaGrange-Troup County Hospital Authority.
Until his health began to fail, Hudson interviewed every applicant and was genuinely interested in their success.
More than anything, Hudson loved his hometown and his family.
“He was so proud of the many service-minded people in LaGrange,” Lukken said. “And he was so very proud of his family. He was such a remarkable man, and we are all so blessed that he was one of our own.”
· “My Life in Stories” is available at lulu.com. Simply click on the bookstore tab at the top right of the page, then type in the title and/or author.