Horry County school board member Paul Hudson, who died Monday night of an apparent heart attack, was not one to sound off if he had nothing worthwhile to say, according to people who knew him growing up in Conway and others who knew him as an adult.
But because he was normally quiet, said school board chairman Will Garland, when he did say something, people tended to listen.
“They knew he had done his homework,” Garland said.
Garland said he’s not completely sure how a new member will be chosen to replace Hudson, who represented District 7, and had a little more than two years left on his term.
The board’s bylaws say that if a member vacates office with more than two years on his or her term, a new member will be elected at the next general election, which in this case will be in November. But the seat was not vacant during the primaries and no one is registered to run, so Garland said he thinks the board may appoint someone to fill out Hudson’s term, as it would for those with less than two years left on a term.
Hudson himself initially got his seat on the board by being appointed to fill the final year of a seat that was vacated, said Cindy Elsberry, schools superintendent. Hudson served a year before seeking the seat in the 2002 election and then was re-elected every four years since.
“He was of course very interested in everything that took place in the Conway schools,” Elsberry said, adding that he was a constant advocate for minority hiring throughout the school system.
He was the board’s liaison to the S.C. School Boards Association where spokeswoman Debbie Elmore said he was a champion of student achievement. He constantly sought for ways to boost achievement, particularly among low-income students, she said.
At the same time, Elmore said Hudson always had high expectations of students and believed strongly that every child could learn.
“His real concern was for children,” Garland said.
Larry White, Conway city councilman, is a few years older than Hudson, but they grew up in the same neighborhood, and even then, White said, Hudson was quiet.
He recalled one time when another man by the name of Larry White ran for the school board, and Hudson mistakenly thought it was the councilman. Hudson went to Councilman White and told him, “You can’t run for that seat. You can’t run for that seat.”
White also said that Hudson was generous.
“If you asked him for something and he had it, he’d give it to you,” White said.
Hudson was president of the Sons of Allen at St. James AME Church in Conway. The group is dedicated to bringing youth and men back into the church fold.
Elsberry recalled visiting Hudson’s church and being struck how he was a leader there as he was with Horry County schools.
“It was a reminder to me that in every venue in which he participated, he was a leader,” Elsberry said.
She said that Hudson was quiet and unassuming, and shouldered his personal troubles in such as way that you wouldn’t know of his pain unless he told you about it.
She said that Hudson’s wife, who died last year, was ill and intermittently hospitalized, where Hudson would keep vigil at her bedside.
“He carried on,” she said. “If you didn’t ask, you would never know what was going on.”
Contact STEVE JONES at 444-1765.