A Man of Character

by minton on February 18, 2015


Bob Hudson, a Physics instructor from 1962 to 1996 at Roanoke College, passed away this week. The word “character” describes Bob as well as one word can ever capture a person. I’m using the word in both the “lovable eccentric” sense as well as the “moral integrity” sense – I think Bob would appreciate the word play.

Bob was indeed a character. He reveled in trivia and details, spinning tails about Fahrenheit’s invention of his temperature scale, contradictions in tax codes, and typographical bloopers of all sorts. He once wrote a review of a Physics book that was longer than the book – he even gave his review a title, punning on a President Bush campaign slogan with “One Thousand Points of Slight.” The following is true: one of the typos he found in the book involved a picture of a famous physicist at a blackboard. The picture was not mislabeled, but one of the equations written on the blackboard was incorrect!

He once found a mistake in the IRS algorithms for computing taxes. Think about that.

He went through the City of Salem tax code and discovered that the city had been overtaxing a duplex he owned. The city agreed, said they would refund money based on the five years of data they had on the computer, and would refund other years if he happened to have records. Bob’s office at Roanoke College featured many stacks of paper reaching above head level, with (for example) minutes of every faculty meeting. Five minutes after Bob left Salem City Hall, he was backing up a truck filled with thirty years of tax receipts!

Bob could be taxing.

But, he had a heart of gold and was a man of the utmost integrity. He set up shop at the Salem Public Library and elsewhere to give help to the elderly and others who needed assistance with taxes. He was truly delighted to help guide others through the maze of details.

He had restored a 1924 Model T truck and gave rides at the Roanoke Museum of Transportation. Upon hearing that out-of-town family would be visiting, he extended his normal hours at the Museum to give us all a ride and a memorable discourse on the history of the automobile. By the way, Bob drafted the Virginia law that regulates the sale of antique car rides.

Bob was a devoted family man, a man with an insatiable curiosity about life, and a man always on the lookout for a chance to laugh at the absurdities of life. A man of character, and a true character who will be missed.


This is a link to an article on Bob in the Roanoke Times: