Terry Hudson spoke softly and carried a big heart.
He gave 14 years of his life to The Courier as a reporter and editor, and a lot of smiles to us. He died last weekend in a fall at home.
For all who knew him, it hurts. A lot.
A large part of Terry Hudson’s body of work at The Courier was anonymous, because he wrote a large portion of the paper’s editorials, for which he never received a byline.
He is one of a number of people at the paper — copy desk editors, people who take obituaries, prepare community briefs, proofread pages or look up items in the newspaper archives — who don’t get a lot of public attention but still are an extremely vital part of the newspaper.
Terry continued to freelance editorials after he left the paper for a job at Amperage Marketing in Cedar Falls and Care Initiatives Hospice. Even though his name isn’t on a lot of his work, his impact is no less great — not just in the paper, but in the hearts of all of us who had the real pleasure of working with him and of enjoying his friendship.
Like his father, Terry was a veteran of the U.S. Navy, serving on the aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk. Terry was a jolly, happy guy but his feelings for his country, his community and the people in his community ran very deep. We saw him become emotional at the departure of a respected administrator at the University of Northern Iowa, who he worked with as a reporter, and at the closing of a neighborhood grocery store in the heart of Cedar Falls where he grew up.
That included our shared conviction of the value and necessity of community journalism. He and colleagues bounced ideas off of each other. Terry was a great sounding board to keep coverage on the right track. He also came up with reasoned positions in his editorials. He let us know it was OK to give a damn about this place we call home and its people.
Terry was passionate about the University of Northern Iowa — his alma mater — as well as the city of Cedar Falls, his Chicago Cubs, Minnesota Vikings and the sport of wrestling.
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He wrestled in high school for the Cedar Falls Tigers under legendary Coach Keith Young — and despite Terry’s naturally warm disposition, he pursued his work with a wrestler’s intensity.
We recall when he and longtime Courier photographer Rick Chase had to cover a major wintertime fire on the downtown Cedar Falls Parkade — navigating ice from rapidly freezing water from the fire hoses. Terry badly cut his hand on a fire hydrant as he tried to break his fall; Rick turned his knee. Despite falling down, they and other colleagues all bore down, got the story and made deadline.
Terry always “got after it.” And he respected that trait in others too.
He also appreciated a good laugh and people who could laugh at themselves. And he could also lighten up a tough situation with a quick quip or feigned sarcasm to pull someone out of a funk of frustration.
Terry worked hard, but he also enjoyed a good time in the company of people. One of his favorite places to recreate was the Panther Lounge in Cedar Falls, where he was known to friends as “Hud.” He was the same guy at play as he was at work — and could put work aside to devote his attention to his more important role as a husband, brother, uncle, great-uncle, son and friend.
His passing, while a terrible shock to us all, is especially profound to his family, including his wife, Keri, and sister, Holly, who also worked alongside us at The Courier for years, and is now at the Grout Museum District.
Author Khalil Gibran once said, “Love knows not its own depth until the moment of separation.” That is absolutely true when it comes to Terry.
Because, while there may be an empty chair at the Panther and AMVETS, Terry Hudson’s soul and good spirit has filled the hearts of all who knew him to the brim. And we will all carry that forward.
Fair winds and following seas, sailor — our dear friend.