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home : columnists : columnists August 1, 2014


5/8/2014 2:00:00 AM

By Karen Zach
Around the County


One of my college professors told me once to "read widely and wildly," which I've tried to do. However, this week's gal puts me to shame. Every year, she reads the Best American Essays. Along with that, her recent choices include Little Failure, Gary Shteyngart's life story. Not only did I spell his name incorrectly, but I'd never heard of him and he's had three best sellers. The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton is one I know but have not read. It is an 800 plus page book, longer than my usual fare. Literally, there was a book in almost every genre (humor, cookbooks, fiction) for my lady reader. Excited, I now have several grand reads I want to tackle. Of course, Helen Hudson also loves to read her husband, Marc's work. Rightfully so! Helen is proud of Marc's poetry and his widely-used translation of Beowulf, as well as his 27 years at Wabash as a language professor.

Graduating with 33 in her high school class, Helen grew-up in Iowa where she enjoyed 4-H and riding her horse. "I'm a farm kid!" she noted with great pride. Marc's father was a chemist for the government in Washington, D.C. It was across the nation, however, at the University of Washington in Seattle where our farm girl met her city-boy.

Marc had received his undergrad degree at Georgetown, his Master's in Colorado then ventured on to the U of W for a Doctorate in English Literature, Medieval Studies. Helen had taught a half-decade in the Denver Public Schools where she was the newspaper sponsor, German teacher, along with being the speech and debate coach. One of her students won state. "It was so exciting for a young teacher!" As the Area Coordinator of the National Federation of Students of German, her territory consisted of 10 Southwestern states, including Hawaii. She was hoping to visit and not just correspond with that state, but alas, after the 1974 National Conference, she desired to pursue her passion of Scandinavian and Russian Literature. Thus, for Helen and Marc, Washington State was the common ground. I'm pretty sure this couple was involved in a Cupid Mission as they are still happy larks after four decades.

Certainly, exciting times were ahead for this intelligent, yet down to earth duo, including wedding bells in a park, a house-sitting job for an international Butterfly guru, and an archeological dig in the Colville Washington area, where the famous Chief Joseph is buried. When Helen received a Fulbright Scholarship to study Old Norse languages, the newlyweds ventured to Iceland, "the only modern Scandinavian country where people can read the old language." Working on farms around Iceland's ring, Marc wrote for such popular magazines as Iceland Review and Audubon. Helen took the pictures for his articles, but they weren't always as well received as Marc's writings.

Both big swimmers, Helen swam outside every day but had head-aches. So, when in Iceland, do what the Icelanders do. After swimming, she'd plop-down in a snow bank, rub her head and face with snow and magically, the headache disappeared. This is possible because of the geothermal index. The year was truly exciting and Helen's passion of today is still Icelandic literature.

Greenbay, Wisconsin is where Helen spent the next few years. A professor of Humanities, she taught English, German and Russian Literature. Marc taught part time and wrote. They loved Green Bay but our charming city of C'ville beckoned Marc to Wabash College in 1987.

At the end of July in 1983, a precious son, Ian Geoffrey Hudson, had been born in Washington State to these God-chosen parents. A traumatic birth had left Ian with cerebral palsy. Firm believers in having Ian with peers, and doing what the others were doing, I was lucky to have had this precious child in story hour when I was children's librarian at the Crawfordsville District Public Library. Although I was a tad leery about having Ian in a story hour with 14 energetic younguns, Ian quickly fit right in and I came to admire the whole Hudson family. Ginny Froedge often brought Ian to the library with her sons. Wonderful with Ian, Helen quickly noted, "Ahhh, Ginny is our hero!" In fact, Helen nominated Ginny for the Champion of Character award. Well deserved!

Alexandra Hudson was born in April of 1989 and is not only a CHS alum but a graduate of Colorado College. She spent time in the Teach for America program, where she taught on the Zuni Pueblo reservation. Interested and talented in so many subjects, she has had plays published and performed (what a thrill for two English-teaching parents) and is now working as a doula (assistant to a mid-wife). Heading back to college, she will finish-up her RN in December 2015 and go on to get a Masters as a CNM (Certified Nurse Midwife).

Instrumental in developing the 10th-12th Honors Program at CHS and AP English, she taught German her last few years. The Athenas, one of Helen's loves is an after-school program for girls. Kathy Keck and Kathy Steele received an extremely large grant to tackle a real problem in the community. Paul Utterback loved trains thus the group researched, planned and cleaned-up the Amtrack station. Having won several awards, the Champions of Rail by Amtrack, a prestigious national award was truly exciting. Lobbying in Washington, Senators Lugar and Bayh brought many into a conference room where Helen's students presented their work. Truly amazing. Whether it's writing her column, working with the League of Women Voters, portraying famous people, helping with the Mobile Pantry, church work, going on Mission Trips (the list goes on), Helen Hudson is a truly community-minded citizen and I'm honored that she allowed me to have her as my choice for this week's ATC.







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