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CRYSTAL RIVER — The man dubbed a “true teacher of life,” and known to many Citrus County residents as “Doc” Hudson died Wednesday. He was 90.
“He is irreplaceable. A big part of Crystal River and Citrus County history died today,” said John Grannan, whose mother, Dorothy King, graduated with Hudson from Crystal River High School in 1940.
Hudson would go on to become a teacher, coach and principal at his alma mater.
Grannan said he’s known Hudson all his life and would call him on occasion in his latter years for some persimmons — Hudson’s favorite fruit.
“I will have to take some and place them on his grave,” Grannan said. “He will be missed.”
James Franklin “Doc” Hudson Sr. was born Dec. 23, 1921, in Crystal River to Dr. Porter Hudson and his wife, Beulah.
After a short time away to college in Atlanta, Hudson returned home and began his teaching career at Lecanto as principal of a two-room schoolhouse.
He later moved to his alma mater, Crystal River High School, where he taught biology, coached baseball and six-man football and became principal. His team won a state championship in six-man football in the late 1940s.
He and his wife, Ailene, later moved to Lake Worth, where he taught at Conniston Junior High School for 25 years. The Hudsons returned to Citrus County in 1983 and opened an antique store on Citrus Avenue.
Jack Dumas, the Crystal River fire chief, recalls as a child his parents talking about Hudson.
“They spoke of him, something akin to a movie star,” Dumas said.
He later came to know the man behind the legend and also found him to be a wonderful person “who will be missed.”
Dumas’ mother, Roger Carol Dumas, was struggling with absorbing the news of Hudson’s death Wednesday afternoon.
“His father delivered both me and my husband (Brown Dumas),” she said.
Mrs. Dumas said Hudson became an incredible mentor to them, helping her husband land his job in banking after high school and helping with a job as his secretary while he was principal.
“He saw good in people and he made you feel you are good,” Mrs. Dumas said.
“Everyone should have someone like ‘Doc’ in their lives,” she said.
Lloyd Bertine, pastor of Gulf to Lake Church in Crystal River, said he also knew of the Hudson family all his life. He remembers hearing about Hudson as a teacher and coach at Crystal River. Bertine got to know him personally later in life and the two became pretty close.
“He was a good man,” Bertine said.
Ginger Bryant, who is chairwoman of the Citrus County School Board, said her mother was a student of Hudson’s. She said Hudson served the people of Citrus County well as an educator and as an individual.
“He was just an awesome man. A very nice, nice person,” she said.
Hudson is survived by his wife of 68 years, Ailene; his son, James Franklin Hudson; and his sister, Margaret Braun of Savannah, Ga.
Chronicle reporter A.B. Sidibe can be reached at 352-564-2925 or firstname.lastname@example.org.