E very Christmas morning for 30 years, Dick Hudson penned a column in the Charleston Daily Mail sports section that was more about life and family than games and athletes.
Hudson directed the open letters to his son - "Dear Terry," they'd almost always begin - each Dec. 25. The first column appeared in 1940, the year Terry was born in Charleston. The final one came in 1969, the winter before Hudson departed the Daily Mail.
His bylines appeared in the sports section in five different decades.
Today, Dick and Terry will be together in Atlanta, where the former joined the latter after leaving the Mountain State for good two decades ago.
Dick Hudson, who was named the state's top sportswriter in 1959, '61 and '67, started the West Virginia Sportswriters Association Sports Hall of Fame and the Victory Awards Dinner, and captivated a readership with his sports stories and "Warming Up" columns, joins an exclusive club today.
Forget 500 home runs and 3,000 hits.
Hudson, today, is a centenarian. That is a fancy word for 100 years old.
His birthday cake might be a fire hazard.
"Where are you going to get 100 candles?" Hudson said to me late last month. "I wish they wouldn't do anything for my birthday. It reminds me of how old I am."
So, let's begin by reminding Dick of his age.
He was born in Charleston on July 17, 1913. That is three days after the birth of Gerald Ford, the 38th President of the United States. Hudson came into this world the same year Woodrow Wilson was sworn in as the 28th President, which means Hudson has witnessed 17 presidencies.
Last week, San Francisco Giants pitcher Tim Lincecum tossed the 281st no-hitter in Major League Baseball history. Hudson has been alive for 212 of them. Babe Ruth made his professional debut a year after Hudson was born.
Hudson has had a Ruthian presence in the life of many, and his milestone will be celebrated today with his son, three granddaughters, two great-grandchildren and a handful of close friends. They'll indulge in cake and ice cream at Hudson's Atlanta condo, where he lives alone.
"He is very independent," Terry Hudson said of his father.
Dick Hudson might've reached triple digits on life's radar gun because of a combination of factors. His father lived 82 years and his mother 92, and Hudson never drank alcohol or smoked.
Although his eyesight faded about 18 months ago, his mind remains sharp.
He started at the Daily Mail on Jan. 5, 1935, became sports editor roughly a year later and held that position until he handed the reigns to Bill Smith in 1970.
Hudson had a two-person staff at the outset and never more than a crew of four. The makeup of the sports department evolved over the years. During World War II, he said, the newsroom staff was depleted and it pushed women into vacant positions.
"It was almost a rule that there weren't any women reporters," said Hudson, who graduated from Charleston High and attended W.Va. Wesleyan.