M ONTGOMERY, Ala.—Fitzgerald S. "Jerry" Hudson, a longtime member of AOPA's Board of Trustees, has died in Montgomery, Alabama, following a brief illness. He was 78. "We have lost a warm, gracious, and hard-working former board member who contributed much to the strength of AOPA," said Paul C. Heintz, AOPA chairman. "His encouragement and guidance influenced considerably AOPA`s decision to include the insurance agency among the many services AOPA provides its nearly 400,000 members."
"For over 30 years, including all of my tenure as chairman, AOPA benefited enormously from Jerry Hudson's unstinting service to AOPA as an active and an emeritus trustee, always the wise advisor and true friend to us all," said AOPA Board member R. Anderson Pew, who was chairman of the board of trustees during most of Hudson's tenure. Pew sponsored Hudson's election to the board in 1972.
"He was a gracious host for many of our board retreats where much of what AOPA is today was conceived and planned. While we will greatly miss him, the many strengths he brought to AOPA will endure as will our warm memories of him."
"I was deeply saddened to receive the news of Jerry's passing," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "He gave so much to AOPA, and to me personally. We have lost a valued colleague, a wise advisor, and a dear friend."
Although trained as an engineer, Hudson's long association with the insurance industry made him key to the development of the AOPA Insurance Agency. He had served as chairman of the board of Willis Corroon (now Willis Group Holdings) and Collier Cobb & Associates. He also was vice chairman of Chesapeake International Corporation and executive director of Lumsden Buckley Houston Group.
He was an underwriting member of Lloyd's of London and had served as president of the National Association of Surety Bond Producers. At the time of his death, he was a general partner in Hudson Group Partners.
Hudson served in the U.S. Marine Corps during World War II and the Korean conflict. In between, he received an engineering degree from Duke University in 1946.
He joined the university's board of trustees in 1979 and served as chairman from 1988 to 1991. He also held several volunteer positions with Duke and received numerous honors, including the School of Engineering's Distinguished Service Award. In 1992, a refurbished "Ol' Red," Duke's venerable engineering building, was renamed Hudson Hall in his honor.
Hudson was a graduate of the executive program at the University of North Carolina's School of Business Administration and served as director of the North Carolina Business Foundation and a member of the North Carolina Citizens Association board.
He was a lover of the arts and endowed a chair at the North Carolina Symphony.
Hudson received his private pilot certificate in 1950, later adding an instrument rating. He joined AOPA in 1954.
Hudson's devotion to general aviation and AOPA extended to his family as well. Two of his sons are active with the association. William Hudson succeeded his father on the AOPA Board of Trustees in 1999. Christopher Hudson is the AOPA regional representative for the Mid-Atlantic region.
Fitzgerald S. Hudson is also survived by two other adult children.