In Memory

Paul Hudgens

Paul Hudgens

Paul Franklin Hudgens

MISSOULA - Paul Franklin Hudgens, 49, of Missoula died Thursday, Aug. 6, from injuries sustained in a car accident.

He was born in Billings on the Ides of March, 1949, the third child of Hoye Jenkins and Clyde Osmer Hudgens. In 1967 he graduated from Billings Senior High School, then attended Rocky Mountain College, focusing on philosophy and religion. Although he never finished college, he was amazingly knowledgeable about a wide range of topics: geology, geography, world religions, current and historical events, the animal world, musical instruments, the art of barbecue.

Paul's passion for sport permeated his life. He excelled at baseball and basketball. He liked to tell the story of being scouted as a 14-year-old pitcher by the St. Louis Cardinals. He played first base with the Red Pies softball team for many years. When he retired from the team, he held records for career doubles, RBIs, and put-outs. He received the Golden Glove award a number of times, but felt most honored when his team voted him Most Valuable Player. One teammate said, "Paul was the finest first baseman Red Pies ever had. No question about it."

Paul spent thousands of hours supporting his children as they participated in athletics. He was the official timekeeper for boys and girls basketball at Hellgate High School for 15 years. He followed many teams and players at all levels - grade school, high school, college, amateur and pro. He often amazed people with his extraordinary memory for sports trivia. He admired and appreciated all athletic talent; even golf tournaments on TV captivated him for hours.

Music was Paul's lifeblood. He began playing guitar as a teen-ager. Although shy, he performed with several bands, including the Electric Garden Party in Billings in the '60s, and the Top Hat's original Floating House Band in Missoula in the '70s. Musicians and music lovers appreciated his sensual guitar playing. He was a fine solo musician and had a remarkable ear for accompanying others.

As a self-taught stringed instrument repairman and customizer, Paul was a fixture in the music community. He was the sole proprietor of Montana Speaker Recone. In addition, he was renowned for his ability to set up guitars so that they sounded and felt just right. This earned him the affectionate nickname "Dr. Guitar." Paul worked with Bitterroot Music, River City Guitars, and with Electronic Sound and Percussion. Most recently, he used his talents in the repair shop of Stringed Instrument Division. In these contexts, Paul formed enduring friendships which he treasured. Paul never lost hope that a small group's love of music could result in a viable business that helped musicians. He counseled and encouraged adolescent musicians of all ages.

In spite of a long struggle with diabetes, depression and alcoholism, Paul's charm, kindness, generosity, sense of humor, curiosity and compassion remained intact. He reached out to tormented souls and the disenfranchised, affirming their humanity. Paul was a supportive, loyal friend to his wife and daughter, whose strengths, achievements and unconditional love for him were a source of pride and wonder. Paul also enjoyed a lifelong enslavement to cats; Sophie and Tatonka will miss him.

Survivors include Paul's wife of 30 years Rosalind Mullen Hudgens; daughter Molly (Mary Alice), attending UC-Berkeley; stepson K.C. Tolliver and his wife Wendy of Bozeman; sister Janet Efron and her husband Michael, and their daughters Rachel and Laura of Portland, Maine; and brother Stephen Hudgens and his wife Colleen of Detroit.

A poem written by Paul Hudgens:


A cool blue breeze

Shivers through the sweat-stained brass

Of a lonely horn.

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05/09/17 10:30 AM #1    

John Armstrong

I think of baseball and music when I think of Paul Hudgens. Paul was lanky and tall and the perfect stature for a pitcher and first baseman. The summer of '64 comes to mind of Barry Mettler's '52 Chevy. Barry was the first to drive, and have his own car. Barry would come to our houses (Paul, Charles Lunde, Charlie Hall, John Collins, Jeff Madsen (only when his homework was finished), Jay Prestrud, mine, and others I can't recall) and pick us up for an evening of adventure driving around Billings, burning the point, and usually ending up at Casa De Pizza. Buzz would stay open into the wee hours giving us a place to eat and play pinball machines. He kept a close eye on us and he didn't take crap from anyone. I remember one instance when I accidently slammed Paul's fingers in the passenger side car door. You had to slam the door hard since the latches back in those days would get loose. I felt so bad and thought I may have broken some of his fingers. Paul being the stoic soul he was said calmly and quietly "No, I'm ok". I still think he received some substative medical attention from his mom when he got home. I'll never forget the time Charles Lunde and I drove up to Paul's house on Rimrock just north of Rocky Mountain College. Paul came out and said he and Mike Story ('66 Senior) were walking over to Arlo Guthrie's dorm room to play some music and we should come along. I didn't even know who Arlo Guthrie was at the time. Arlo Guthrie went one semester at Rocky and somehow Paul became acquainted with him. That was a night to remember listening to Paul, Mike Story, Charles, and Arlo Guthrie play their strings and singing. My condolensces to Paul's family and friends. He was a man among men and I'm thankful for the time we shared together.

05/11/17 07:49 AM #2    

Jeff Madsen

Those comments , John , bring back some memories for me as well. That connection Paul had early on with Arlo Guthrie was pretty amazing, of course. I used to see Paul around Missoula once in a while later on. He'd be out with his wife and Mike Story sometimes... He really was an unforgettable person. Sorry to hear he's gone...

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