Rupe Hudson, a revolutionary in Catholic charity and social justice, died suddenly at home, on Sydney’s Northern Beaches on 18 July 2017. He was 88. He is survived by his wife, Kathleen, their children: Ron, Kevin, Elaine, Bernie, Keith, John and Chris, 13 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
Rupert “Rupe” Osman Hudson OAM was born on December 1, 1928 at Erskineville His parents, Reub and Celia Hudson lived in Annandale before moving to Harbord in the late 1920s where they raised their four boys (James, Donald, Rupert, Michael).
He was formerly National President of the Society of St Vincent de Paul, Board Member and President of the Manly Warringah Rugby League Football Club as well as a director of the Leagues Club.
Hundreds packed the Mass of Thanksgiving and Celebration for the life of Hudson, at St John the Baptist Church, Freshwater on July 26. The celebrant was Fr David Taylor.
Sons, Ron, Kevin and Bernie paid tribute to Rupe’s eloquence in defence of poor and oppressed people. Until the time of his death Hudson made weekly visits to detained asylum seekers in Sydney. They recalled that although he had lost a leg in a roadside accident he would take them swimming every day because he believed in physical fitness.
Rupe and Kathleen Foley met when they were both 17. After marrying five years later they left for their honeymoon on Rupe’s Indian motorcycle and sidecar. The boys recalled that Rupe had made his mind up to study “something” in Chemistry, in which he had distinguished himself at high school. Turning up on enrolment day in 1946 at Sydney Technical College in Mary St, Ultimo, he looked over the queues in the Chemistry area, and asked what they were all doing. Some told him they were going to do Chemistry, others were opting for Chemical Engineering. He asked which was the more difficult course and was told Chemical Engineering, so he enrolled in the part-time study of that.
He said it was the hardest thing he ever did. He finished in 1951, the year Ron and Kevin were born.
The boys recalled how Rupe, Kathleen and their growing family lived in a garage on their land at North Curl Curl while building the house, without borrowing a cent. Ten years later , 1961, the family moved into their new brick home, owning it outright.
Brian Murnane, who succeeded Rupe as National President of the St Vincent de Paul Society, said Rupe did not care a jot about obtaining treasures or prestige through charity work. Instead, he fought so that the society would spend its last cent on the poor. Hudson, he said, was a classic example of what a leader of the Society should be. Unfortunately not everyone shared his revolutionary ideas.
Written by Cliff Baxter.