A Snapshot of the Life and Times of Leona Hudson

      Born in the spring of 1920, Leona Roberts Strickland began life in a promising Era. In many ways she temperamentally embodied the hopeful expectations of the Twenties, a time in which abundance seemed to prevail. She lived the first decade of her life in the beautiful home her father built in 1916 at 1006 North Patterson Street. Both parents loved, adored and doted on Leona, their only child.

       Leona’s mother, Rosa Hill Strickland (1892-1981), graduated from Agnes Scott College in 1914 where she mastered voice and piano training. On November 14, 1916 Rosa Hill married Leona’s father, William Roberts Strickland (1888-1960), banker, entrepreneur and cotton broker. At the age of six Leona entered the Training School at GSWC (Georgia State Women’s College, later Valdosta State College then Valdosta State University) where she remained until 1933. Except for two medical incidents involving Will—namely,a recurrence in 1924 of an illness he contracted during his Army service in 1918, and an accident at the end of the decade in 1929 in which he was nearly blinded by a prescription mishap--the first decade of Leona’s life was a model of childhood abundance and security. The Stricklands often traveled to Washington, Georgia where Rosa’s family lived and with whom they kept close kinship ties.

      As the seeming prosperity of the 1920s gave way to the dire realities of the 1930s, so the second decade of Leona’s life changed dramatically. At the beginning of the decade, Will Strickland experienced a number of significant financial losses exacerbated by the Depression. Both his assets and livelihood were adversely affected. In the middle of the decade, Will also developed debilitating health problems that were later diagnosed as chronic encephalitis. The combination of financial and health reverses strained the family’s unity. While her parents were involved in finding proper diagnosis and treatment for Will, Leona moved to her grandmother, Annie Lee Hill’s home in Washington, Georgia. She enrolled in Washington High School where she remained until she graduated in 1937. Afterward she returned to Valdosta to live with her parents then residing at 404 North Patterson Street. From 1937 to 1938 Leona attended GSWC. In 1938, she took a job at Varnadoe’s, a local clothing store, where she worked first as a sales person, and then as a buyer, until 1945.

      The decade of the Forties began with Leona devoted largely to her immediate family and her job. The decade would end quite differently. In the early 1940s, Leona enjoyed the benefits of being a single career woman and largely avoided some of the incumbent responsibilities as she lived the first five years of the decade with her parents, and carried on an active social life with friends and relatives. Colored by a world war, the decade shaped a generation of young people, including Leona, and friends deployed in both the European and Pacific Theaters. Beginning shortly after his entry into the Army in mid 1944, Dugald Hudson became her favorite correspondent. Distant cousins, Leona and Dugald knew each other and were friends from childhood. During the course of their correspondence over 1944 and 1945 the friendship evolved into a romantic relationship.

      Leona Strickland married Dugald Hudson December 28, 1945 as Dugald’s career in Army investigative services was in its early stages. Dugald Walker Hudson was born July 25, 1919 to Wilton Tyler Hudson and Coline Munroe Hudson in Greenville, South Carolina. In 1940 he graduated as first honor student from Presbyterian College. His distinguished and impressive career in law, the military, and higher education began with training and service as Special Agent in the F.B.I. from 1941-1944. Dugald’s military career as an Army officer spanned well over a decade from 1944-1958. He served in Europe during and after WWII, and later, during some of the most intense years of the Cold War, he served in Korea. While in the Army Dugald served the Judge Advocate General’s Office and taught for the Maryland Counter Intelligence Corps School, the University of Georgia, and University of Maryland’s Far East Programs in Korea. In the first five years of their marriage, and the second half of the 1940s, Leona and Dugald lived in and around the Washington, D.C. area including residences in Baltimore and Virginia. During these years Dugald completed graduate and post graduate law degrees at University of Maryland, American University, and George Washington University.

       In the spring of 1960, Will Strickland died. During the 1960s and 70s Leona and Dugald established themselves and became an active part in the communities of their jobs, their neighborhood, and their church home, the First Presbyterian Church where they served in many capacities. They traveled routinely back to Valdosta to visit with Rosa and with friends. They also continued to travel abroad extensively in Europe, Greece, Mexico, and the Caribbean.

      Sometime in 1980 Dugald founded the Legal Studies Program in the Department of Risk Management and Insurance at Georgia State University, a highlight of his long and impressive academic career. In 1981 Rosa died in Valdosta of heart related illness. Dugald retired in 1988 from thirty years teaching and administration at Georgia State University. Leona and Dugald continued to travel throughout the 1980s and 90s. However, they took fewer trips abroad and confined themselves more to extensive travel in the eastern and western United States. They traveled to Austria in 1984, ‘87, and ’89; to France in 1986 and ’88; to Ireland in 1986; to the Caribbean in 1984 and 1990. They traveled in Canada and Alaska in 1985, and throughout the northeastern and northwestern United States in the years they did not go abroad. After Rosa’s death in 1981 Leona and Dugald continued to return frequently to Valdosta. They maintained the 902 Wildwood Drive residence along with their Atlanta residence until Dugald died in November, 2005 from complications resulting from a fall at the couple’s home in Atlanta. In November, 2006 Leona moved permanently back to 902 Wildwood Drive in Valdosta where she was living when she died of heart related illness March 6, 2008. Leona and Dugald bequeathed their generous estates to local charities in Valdosta and Atlanta.

Biography provided by Dr. Catherine Oglesby, Professor of History, Valdosta State University