Jerry Hudson, Pratt Alumnus and Supporter, Dies in Alabama

Fitzgerald S. "Jerry" Hudson, former chairman of the Duke board of trustees and for whom Pratt School of Engineering’s oldest building was named, died of complications from a stroke May 9 in Montgomery, Ala. He was 78.

As trustee chairman from 1988 to 1991, Hudson provided the leadership on several important university initiatives at a time of change for the university. Duke officials said his support was instrumental in the construction of the $80 million Levine Science Research Center, which greatly expanded the amount of classroom and research space in the sciences. He also was important in establishing the Duke University Management Corporation (DUMAC), the affiliated corporation that is responsible for handling the university endowment.

An engineering graduate, Hudson showed particular interest in the engineering school and the Marine Lab. In 1992, a building in the engineering school, known affectionately as "Old Red," was renamed Hudson Hall in his honor.

“Jerry played a significant role in Duke’s growth during a critical period and his support for the School of Engineering was much appreciated,” said Kristina M. Johnson, who became Pratt’s dean in 1999. “He will be missed.”

Friends said Hudson used his imposing height to command attention as a leader and his gentle sense of humor to deflate tension in a room.

"Jerry was an exceptional leader, and it was always enjoyable to work with him," said Duke President Emeritus H. Keith H. Brodie, who worked closely with Hudson. "He was the type of leader who would charge forth and expect the troops to rally around and follow him. And they usually did."

Hudson joined the U.S. Marines in 1943, and served during World War II and the Korean War, retiring as a captain. He attended Auburn and Duke universities, graduating from Duke in 1946 with a Bachelor of Science degree in civil engineering.

Pratt Associate Dean Robert “Judge” Carr, director of development and alumni affairs, met with the Hudson family in Montgomery, Ala., May 13 prior to a private memorial service.