Tyler Junior College will soon celebrate its 90th birthday. Among the hundreds of thousands of lives that it has touched and changed forever are the lives of the entire Hudson family. My grandfather, O.C. Hudson, was a farmer and businessman who was proud to have been an original contributor to the founding of TJC. Like so many things in this great community, visionary leaders saw the need and in just a few days in 1926, raised the money to establish Tyler Junior College. My father, Dick Hudson and his high school sweetheart, Mary Hart, both graduated from TJC. It’s no coincidence that my brother and I, as well as my children and their in laws all share a special TJC connection.
Just as they do now, TJC faculty and staff guided and influenced me at a critical time. Jim Yancy was a great teacher who taught English and much more by opening a bigger world to his classes. He arranged trips to Dallas for students to attend opera and helped us enjoy and appreciate the East Texas Symphony Orchestra. I admired my TJC professors and wanted to be like them. Herman Crow was an outstanding government teacher, and I went on to get a master’s degree in government and found myself teaching the same course in much the way he taught me.
Teaching government at TJC was both an honor and a labor of love. Dr. Jenkins was president and while respected, he was feared. I was summoned to his office but I hadn’t worn a tie that day so I quickly found one. I waited outside his office while my conscience searched for anything I had done wrong from having my hair too long to being too liberal. Instead, Dr. Jenkins pulled out a letter from a student that evaluated his professors and the student had rated me as among the best. Not known for his softer side, having Dr. Jenkins say “You’re doing a good job” was like winning a major award!
I taught that government shouldn’t be a spectator sport and I became involved in local and state government. In 1983, I was elected to the Texas House of Representatives. The legislature is a great place to make a difference and I am grateful to have had a chance to do so. I’m proudest of being a strong champion for education. Like so many others in our area, I am a graduate of both TJC and UT Tyler. During my time in Austin, we were able to open the Permanent University Fund (PUF) so branch campuses like UT Tyler could participate, and as a result UT Tyler honored me with its first “Distinguished Alumni” award in 1984. Today, I’m pleased at how TJC and UT Tyler are working together in close partnership.
Education is supposed to be lifelong and the influence of my TJC professors was lifelong too. Government, history, and political science are a natural pathway for law, but many people don’t realize how key English is for law school. Writing, reading and communications skills may be the best predictor of law school graduation. At a critical time in my life, experiences at TJC like Jim Yancy’s English class and Herman Crow’s government class helped shape and prepare me to make major lifetime choices. After going back to college and graduating from Baylor Law School in 1992, I worked as a hearings attorney for the Comptroller of Public Accounts before joining the Perdue Law Firm in 1998 where I still enjoy working today.
As an active volunteer on local boards and in community organizations, none are more satisfying than serving on the TJC Board. I’m proud to be associated with such a great group of people. I wish my father, who recently passed away, could see TJC at its 90th birthday, and I’m so proud that my mother is still involved at TJC. When folks tell me the best TJC teacher they ever had is named Hudson, but that it was my mother and not me, it warms my heart! I’m so proud of our community’s college and that at age 90, it’s going strong and getting stronger!
- TJC Hero and Friend David Hudson has served on the Tyler Junior College Board of Trustees since 2002, and served as president of the Board from 2006-2008. He was a full-time government professor at the College from 1975-1982 and served in the Texas House of Representatives for District 6 from 1983-1991. He was awarded the Distinguished Alumni Award by the TJC Alumni Association in 1991. Besides his close connection to TJC, he is also very involved in the community and is proud to call Tyler his home.