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Hudson Scholarships and How They Grew
Oberlin Alumni Magazine, Fall 1979

by Phil Tear ’43

When the Class of 1918 celebrated its fifth reunion in 1923 there were 78 members who answered the roll call, not counting spouses and children. They wore their class colors (orange and black) and they gave President Henry Churchill King $2,500 in cash to establish a scholarship fund in memory of Henry Burt Hudson, a classmate who died behind enemy lines in France in 1918 when his plane was shot down in a dogfight with the Germans. The fund was to provide $125 each year to a man in the junior class who “is recommended by the College Committee on Scholarships and is elected by vote of the Men’s Senate.” The scholarship was to be increased to $250 by 1928.

“Red” Hudson was president of the class in its freshman year. Before enrolling in the College he was captain of the Academy football team, played on the baseball team and was a member of the debate team. He came from Pittsburgh and was a third generation Oberlinian. His great-great-grandfather founded Hudson, Ohio, in 1800. His grandfather, Timothy, transferred to Oberlin from Western Reserve (then located in Hudson) as a sophomore in 1835 but, in the words of President Fairchild, his “relations as a pupil were interrupted” because the “growing school soon enlisted his services as a teacher.”

Timothy Hudson became professor of Latin and Greek in 1838 and he later married Betsy Branch who received the Lit. degree in 1839. He resigned from the faculty in 1841 to become a lecturer for the Ohio Anti-Slavery Society. In 1847 he returned to the faculty as a professor of languages, took the A.B. degree which President Fairchild said he could have received in 1837 “but had not cared to ask for it.” He received the A.M. in 1850 and was killed by a train near Olmsted Falls, Ohio, in 1858.

“Red’s” grandmother, Betsy Branch Hudson, was born in Worthington, Mass., in 1813. She studied in the preparatory department before enrolling at the College. She married Red’s grandfather in December 1841 and was a member of the Woman’s Board of the College from 1851 to 1870. From 1876 to 1881, she was president of the Michigan WCTU. She died in 1902.

All three of Timothy and Betsy Hudson’s children were Oberlin graduates. Red’s father, James Fairchild Hudson, received the A.B. in 1867. His uncle William graduated in 1862 and his aunt Frances received the Lit. in 1863. In 1890, the College gave here an honorary A.M.

Red’s father enrolled in the College after graduating from the preparatory department in 1863. He was a corporal in the Civil War, a reporter for newspapers in Toledo and Youngstown, Ohio, and he became editor of the Pittsburgh Dispatch in 1883. He was the author of several books. He died in the second semester of Red’s freshman year at Oberlin. Red’s brother, William, graduated from the Academy in 1910. During World War I he was a first lieutenant colonel in the Army. He died in Buffalo in 1964. Red’s sister, Helen Whiting ’15, died Dec. 15, 1978 (LOSSES IN THE OBERLIN FAMILY).

As a freshman at Oberlin, Henry Burt Hudson (his mother’s maiden name was Ina Burt) played on the freshman football and baseball teams. In his sophomore year he took a job at Pyle Inn to pay for most of his college expenses but he had time to play center on the varsity football team and first base on the baseball team. In his junior year (1916) he again played center in varsity football and despite the disastrous season (FRATERNITIES AT OBERLIN, Spring 1979) he was picked on almost every all-Conference squad. He was elected captain of the 1917 team and there was strong belief that he would be one of Oberlin’s greatest football heroes.

However, in the autumn of 1917, Red Hudson did not show up for football practice. He had enlisted in July in the aviation section of the Army signal corps and had left for France in September to begin flying, under French direction. In June 1918 he was elected an “honorary war member” of the Class of 1918. On Oct. 5, 1918, just 37 days before the Armistice, Henry Burt Hudson was burned to death in the flames of his falling plane.

When Dortha Bailey Doolittle ’18 was elected president of the class at its 45th reunion in 1963, she found that the Hudson Fellowship Fund still totalled the same $2,500 that was contributed in 1923. It had earned enough interest, however, to provide 28 scholarships of anywhere from $75 to $200 over the intervening 40 years. Each scholarship had been awarded to a man in the junior class in the College of Arts and Sciences.

Mrs. Doolittle immediately reactivated the 1923 plan to increase the scholarship’s principal amount. She and the late Elston L. Belknap ’18, M.D., set a goal of $50,000 in gifts to the Hudson Fund for the classes 50th reunion in 1968. They found that their fund-raising effort seemed to unite the class.

“I am not so impressed by the dollars and cents aspect of the fund as I am by the opportunity it has given the class to help talented students,” says Mrs. Doolittle.

After the 50th reunion and Dr. Belknap’s untimely death in 1974, Mrs. Doolittle continued to beat the drums for the Hudson Scholarships. As a class agent, she announced at the Class of 1918’s 60th reunion in 1978 that the Hudson Fund had grown to $168,541 and was still growing. She had hoped that the 60th reunion total would be $120,000!

In addition a committee headed by Ford Curtis ’18 (see LOSSES IN THE OBERLIN FAMILY) and assisted by Frances T. Brown, class president, and Mrs. Doolittle had raised $284,512 in gifts and pledges and bequests from 65 members of the class as a special gift to Oberlin.

By then the Hudson Fund was providing five $1,000 scholarships annually and eligibility had been expanded from men in the College of Arts and Sciences to include Conservatory students and women. Since the fall of 1978, five $1,200 scholarships have been awarded annually.

In all, 163 individuals have made gifts to build the Fund. The primary source of support has been from the Class of 1918, but contributors also include former recipients and friends. Red Hudson’s sister, Helen Whiting, contributed generously. Gifts have been received from Red’s nephew, Henry Hudson Whiting, and from Capt. Raymond Brooks, Red’s commanding officer who saw his plane fall in 1918. Captain Brooks, a World War I ace, is a friend of Dortha Doolittle and her husband, Arthur, who was a World War I aviator.

Along with her fund-raising efforts, Mrs. Dolittle corresponds with previous recipients of Hudson scholarships and she meets with new recipients in Oberlin each fall. Sixty-seven scholarships have been awarded since 1923 and only two of the recipients (Robert Kretchmar ’40 and Robert Henry ’32) are deceased.

She has compiled a huge scrapbook containing photos of Hudson scholars and data they have submitted about their careers. Margaret Schauffler ’18, emeritus professor of fine arts, designed the cover. The Hudson Fund has provided $42,000 in scholarship aid since its inception.

Last May, when Mrs. Doolittle received a certificate of appreciation from the Alumni Association for her fund-raising efforts, the Hudson fund had grown to $13,670.

Mrs. Doolittle was born in Oberlin and was graduated from Oberlin High School in 1914. She majored in chemistry and taught it in schools and colleges and universities from the time she graduated from Oberlin College until she retired in 1970 except 1954–58 when she was a research chemist for Union Carbide Chemicals Co. She received the M.S. in chemistry from Illinois in 1920 and has done additional study at Oberlin, Michigan and M.I.T.

Her principal assignments have been at Kanawha Jr. College (1932–39), Morris Harvey College (1939–54), West Virginia Tech (1958–62), Drexel Institute (1962–65) and Pennsylvania Military College, now called Widener College (1962–70). In addition she has taught at Illinois, Oberlin (Charles M. Hall Fellow, 1944–45), Miami U., Yale, Barnard, Stamford (Conn.) High School, Miss Harris School (Chicago) and Dearborn Morgan Private School in Orange, N.J. (1929–31).

Her husband, Arthur K., graduated from Columbia in 1918 and was president of Arcadia Institute of Scientific Research after retiring from Union Carbide in 1961. They were married in 1923 and have two children, Robert F. II ’48 and Elizabeth Peckham ’49. Mrs. Doolittle is listed in American Men of Science (1957) and the third edition of Who’s Who of American Women. She has written articles in journals and has written and delivered numerous papers on chemistry before technical groups and she and her husband have collaborated on The Technology of Solvents and Plasticizers and other publications. She was a member of the Alumni Board 1967–70.

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