Hudgens, 86 remembered as leader in community

Published 1:12 am Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Mack Hudgens was remembered this week as a businessman who had an intense interest in his community, and who remained active until his death Monday.

Hudgens died after the tractor he was driving was struck by a vehicle. He was 86.

Members of the South Alabama Regional Airport Authority paused to remember him as a man who represented Opp as a board member for almost 10 years, and who never lost interest in the airport’s activities.

“It’s been 20 years since he served on the board,” current board member Dr. Chuck Burgess recalled. “But he was still interested.”

But for a family illness, he was slated to attend Yulista’s recent announcement that it would locate a business in SARA’s twin hangars.

“Mack loved the airport,” Burgess said. “He only sold his airplane about 10 years ago.”

Andalusia Mayor Earl Johnson said he joined SARA at the same time as Hudgens.

“We began together on airport authority in 1989,” Johnson recalled. “He loved this airport, and he loved this community. He rarely missed a meeting, and he had the best wishes of community in his heart and mind.”

For many years, Hudgens owned Western Auto in Opp. Robert Boothe said he was almost grown before he figured out he was actually related to Hudgens, that he just seemed like family.

“When I was a kid, the Western Auto was our Walmart,” Boothe recalled. “My dad and Mr. Mack Hudgens were friends. His wife was sister to one of my uncles. All of us were raised like cousins, and we didn’t know we weren’t until we got into high school.”

And most children who grew up in that era in Opp believed Mr. Hudgens was a personal helper for Santa Claus, he said.

“By the time you got 7 or 8 years old, your dad or your mom carry you to Western Auto, hinting about what you wanted from Santa Claus,” he said. “I kinda thought he was Santa’s main man. I think of Western Flyer wagons, and everybody in Opp, Ala., had one from him,” he said. “That’s where I got my first bicycle, BB gun, and pellet gun. We bought our shotgun shells and rifle shells there.”

Boothe said he saw Hudgens at church at Westview Baptist on Sunday.

“I know at church on Sunday, we shake hands after the first song,” Boothe said. “I realized I had missed Mr. Mack because he was on the other side of the church. I went and shook his hand, and I’m glad I did.”

Boothe said Hudgens served more than 40 years as an Opp fireman. When he couldn’t manage the hoses anymore, he handled the radio for the department.

Burgess said he’s only seen Hudgens get upset one time.

“I deer hunted with him,” Burgess said. “The only time I ever saw him get upset, he came out of the woods with his deer hounds.

“I asked him what was wrong, and he said, ‘I am angry and shocked. I paid $400 apiece for these dogs, and they were running a rabbit. Don’t tell anybody.’ “

Hudgens is survived by his son and daughter-in-law, Terry Hudgens and Terri; grandchildren, Amanda Hudgens Mooney and husband, Jason, and Abbie Williams and husband, Chad; great-grandchildren, Hayden, Abby, Kylee, Cassady, Jasee, Nolan and Lynlee Grace; and sister-in-law, Mave Workman.

He was preceded in death by his wife, Edna Hall Hudgens; and parents, Orean Buckelew Hudgens and John. J. Hudgens.

Funeral services will be held at 2 p.m. Thursday, August 30, 2018, from Westview Baptist Church with burial following in Peaceful Acres Memorial Gardens. Visitation will be held at the church from 12:30 until service time.