by Phil Tear ’43
When the Class of 1918 celebrated its fifth reunion in 1923 there
were 78 members who answered the roll call, not counting spouses
and children. They wore their class colors (orange and black) and
they gave President Henry Churchill King $2,500 in cash to establish
a scholarship fund in memory of Henry Burt Hudson, a classmate
who died behind enemy lines in France in 1918 when his plane was
shot down in a dogfight with the Germans. The fund was to provide
$125 each year to a man in the junior class who “is recommended
by the College Committee on Scholarships and is elected by vote
of the Men’s Senate.” The scholarship was to be increased
to $250 by 1928.
“Red” Hudson was president of the class in its freshman
year. Before enrolling in the College he was captain of the Academy
team, played on the baseball team and was a member of the debate
team. He came from Pittsburgh and was a third generation Oberlinian.
His great-great-grandfather founded Hudson, Ohio, in 1800. His
grandfather, Timothy, transferred to Oberlin from Western Reserve
(then located in Hudson) as a sophomore in 1835 but, in the words
of President Fairchild, his “relations as a pupil were interrupted” because
the “growing school soon enlisted his services as a teacher.”
Timothy Hudson became professor of Latin and Greek in 1838 and
he later married Betsy Branch who received the Lit. degree in 1839.
He resigned from the faculty in 1841 to become a lecturer for the
Ohio Anti-Slavery Society. In 1847 he returned to the faculty as
a professor of languages, took the A.B. degree which President
Fairchild said he could have received in 1837 “but had not
cared to ask for it.” He received the A.M. in 1850 and was
killed by a train near Olmsted Falls, Ohio, in 1858.
“Red’s” grandmother, Betsy Branch Hudson, was
born in Worthington, Mass., in 1813. She studied in the preparatory
before enrolling at the College. She married Red’s grandfather
in December 1841 and was a member of the Woman’s Board of
the College from 1851 to 1870. From 1876 to 1881, she was president
of the Michigan WCTU. She died in 1902.
All three of Timothy and Betsy Hudson’s children were Oberlin
graduates. Red’s father, James Fairchild Hudson, received
the A.B. in 1867. His uncle William graduated in 1862 and his aunt
Frances received the Lit. in 1863. In 1890, the College gave here
an honorary A.M.
Red’s father enrolled in the College after graduating from
the preparatory department in 1863. He was a corporal in the Civil
War, a reporter for newspapers in Toledo and Youngstown, Ohio,
and he became editor of the Pittsburgh Dispatch in 1883. He was
the author of several books. He died in the second semester of
Red’s freshman year at Oberlin. Red’s brother, William,
graduated from the Academy in 1910. During World War I he was a
first lieutenant colonel in the Army. He died in Buffalo in 1964.
Red’s sister, Helen Whiting ’15, died Dec. 15, 1978
(LOSSES IN THE OBERLIN FAMILY).
As a freshman at Oberlin, Henry Burt Hudson (his mother’s
maiden name was Ina Burt) played on the freshman football and baseball
teams. In his sophomore year he took a job at Pyle Inn to pay for
most of his college expenses but he had time to play center on
the varsity football team and first base on the baseball team.
In his junior year (1916) he again played center in varsity football
and despite the disastrous season (FRATERNITIES
AT OBERLIN, Spring
1979) he was picked on almost every all-Conference squad. He was
elected captain of the 1917 team and there was strong belief that
he would be one of Oberlin’s greatest football heroes.
However, in the autumn of 1917, Red Hudson did not show up for
football practice. He had enlisted in July in the aviation section
of the Army signal corps and had left for France in September to
begin flying, under French direction. In June 1918 he was elected
an “honorary war member” of the Class of 1918. On Oct.
5, 1918, just 37 days before the Armistice, Henry Burt Hudson was
burned to death in the flames of his falling plane.
When Dortha Bailey Doolittle ’18 was elected president of
the class at its 45th reunion in 1963, she found that the Hudson
Fellowship Fund still totalled the same $2,500 that was contributed
in 1923. It had earned enough interest, however, to provide 28
scholarships of anywhere from $75 to $200 over the intervening
40 years. Each scholarship had been awarded to a man in the junior
class in the College of Arts and Sciences.
Mrs. Doolittle immediately reactivated the 1923 plan to increase
the scholarship’s principal amount. She and the late Elston
L. Belknap ’18, M.D., set a goal of $50,000 in gifts to the
Hudson Fund for the classes 50th reunion in 1968. They found that
their fund-raising effort seemed to unite the class.
“I am not so impressed by the dollars and cents aspect
of the fund as I am by the opportunity it has given the class to
students,” says Mrs. Doolittle.
After the 50th reunion and Dr. Belknap’s untimely death in
1974, Mrs. Doolittle continued to beat the drums for the Hudson
Scholarships. As a class agent, she announced at the Class of 1918’s
60th reunion in 1978 that the Hudson Fund had grown to $168,541
and was still growing. She had hoped that the 60th reunion total
would be $120,000!
In addition a committee headed by Ford Curtis ’18 (see LOSSES
IN THE OBERLIN FAMILY) and assisted by Frances T. Brown, class
president, and Mrs. Doolittle had raised $284,512 in gifts and
pledges and bequests from 65 members of the class as a special
gift to Oberlin.
By then the Hudson Fund was providing five $1,000 scholarships
annually and eligibility had been expanded from men in the College
of Arts and Sciences to include Conservatory students and women.
Since the fall of 1978, five $1,200 scholarships have been awarded
In all, 163 individuals have made gifts to build the Fund. The
primary source of support has been from the Class of 1918, but
contributors also include former recipients and friends. Red Hudson’s
sister, Helen Whiting, contributed generously. Gifts have been
received from Red’s nephew, Henry Hudson Whiting, and from
Capt. Raymond Brooks, Red’s commanding officer who saw his
plane fall in 1918. Captain Brooks, a World War I ace, is a friend
of Dortha Doolittle and her husband, Arthur, who was a World War
Along with her fund-raising efforts, Mrs. Dolittle corresponds
with previous recipients of Hudson scholarships and she meets with
new recipients in Oberlin each fall. Sixty-seven scholarships have
been awarded since 1923 and only two of the recipients (Robert
Kretchmar ’40 and Robert Henry ’32) are deceased.
She has compiled a huge scrapbook containing photos of Hudson
scholars and data they have submitted about their careers. Margaret
emeritus professor of fine arts, designed the cover. The Hudson
Fund has provided $42,000 in scholarship aid since its inception.
Last May, when Mrs. Doolittle received a certificate of appreciation
from the Alumni Association for her fund-raising efforts, the Hudson
fund had grown to $13,670.
Mrs. Doolittle was born in Oberlin and was graduated from Oberlin
High School in 1914. She majored in chemistry and taught it in
schools and colleges and universities from the time she graduated
from Oberlin College until she retired in 1970 except 1954–58
when she was a research chemist for Union Carbide Chemicals Co.
She received the M.S. in chemistry from Illinois in 1920 and has
done additional study at Oberlin, Michigan and M.I.T.
Her principal assignments have been at Kanawha Jr. College (1932–39),
Morris Harvey College (1939–54), West Virginia Tech (1958–62),
Drexel Institute (1962–65) and Pennsylvania Military College,
now called Widener College (1962–70). In addition she has
taught at Illinois, Oberlin (Charles M. Hall Fellow, 1944–45),
Miami U., Yale, Barnard, Stamford (Conn.) High School, Miss Harris
School (Chicago) and Dearborn Morgan Private School in Orange,
Her husband, Arthur K., graduated from Columbia in 1918 and was
president of Arcadia Institute of Scientific Research after retiring
from Union Carbide in 1961. They were married in 1923 and have
two children, Robert F. II ’48 and Elizabeth Peckham ’49.
Mrs. Doolittle is listed in American Men of Science (1957) and
the third edition of Who’s Who of American Women. She has
written articles in journals and has written and delivered numerous
papers on chemistry before technical groups and she and her husband
have collaborated on The Technology of Solvents and Plasticizers
and other publications. She was a member of the Alumni Board 1967–70.