Grace Davidson Hudkins, 89, generous volunteer

Grace Hudkins of the Smokeshire Valley in Chester, VT, died peacefully at home in her 90th year on Wednesday, July 25, 2012. She will be remembered for her cheerfulness, adaptability and generosity.

Grace Davidson Hudkins, long-time Chester resident, dies at 89.

Mrs. Hudkins was born Oct. 20, 1922 in Suffern, NY, and grew up in Hillburn, NY, and in Summit, NJ, a daughter of Robert Jackson Davidson and Grace R. (Perry) Davidson. She spent summers at her family’s Horsenail Farm in Windham, VT. Graduating from the Kent Place School in 1940, she went on to attend Wellesley College. She left Wellesley in 1942 to work at the Columbia Gas Co. of New York City and was a volunteer airplane spotter coordinator during World War II.

Mrs. Hudkins was predeceased by her husband, W. Freel Hudkins in 2004. He proposed to her on Valentine’s Day of 1949 and they were married in Windham, VT on July 3rd of that same year. Grace and Freel moved from Manhattan to Meyersville, NJ, in 1951, where they raised their four children.

Mrs. Hudkins was an active member of the Presbyterian Church in Meyersville and gave tirelessly in support of education, serving as an officer, including several terms as president, of local PTAs. She was also a real estate agent for the Bryson Agency during the late ’60s and early ’70s.

Freel and Grace purchased their own piece of property in the Smokeshire Valley of Chester in the 1960s, spending every summer there until they took up residence full time in 1971. Mrs. Hudkins was an accomplished knitter and, for many years, owned and operated The Needleworks, a knitting and crafts store on Main Street in Springfield, VT.

Throughout the Chester and Springfield area, she was well known for her contributions to the growth of the congregation of the First Universalist Parish where she volunteered her time in many roles. She was active with Visiting Nurse and Hospice of Vermont and New Hampshire, spending many hours as a hospice volunteer and as a bereavement group leader. She served as a member of the Springfield Hospital Ethics Committee and led breast cancer patient support groups. Mrs. Hudkins also worked in Dr. Peter Weiss’s office and for Planned Parenthood of Northern New England in Springfield.

Mrs. Hudkins was predeceased by her two sisters, Alice Bingham and Emily Backer. She is survived by her children: Daniel and his wife Susan Bass of San Jose, CA; Perry Hudkins of Chester; Peter and his wife Donna McNeill, also of Chester; and Christopher and his wife Lynn Kelley of Springfield. She is also survived by her five grandchildren, seven great-grandchildren and many nieces and nephews. Gifts in her memory may be made to the First Universalist Parish of Chester; Visiting Nurse and Hospice of Vermont and New Hampshire or Planned Parenthood of Northern New England.
The family is planning a private service.

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  1. Jim Walsh says:

    I owe much to Grace and Freel, it is due to their generosity that I am in Vermont. It was they who took care of us (Elli and me) when Mom asked them to, while she nursed our father through the last week of his life, it was Willie who told me of my father’s passing, it was they who welcomed use many summers thereafter. It was here I found solace and home, where I found my wife, my career and raised my boys. Thank you Grace and Freel, I hope we can pass on the kindness you have shown us.

  2. Sue Pollard says:

    Grace was a woman “ahead of her time.” She was a treasure to the Ethics Committee at Springfield Hospital, as she had a most open mind about all matters discussed. She was a very bright woman, who loved to share her knowledge with others, and had a great spirit about her. I feel privileged to have known her and worked with her. My condolences to the family. May we all find comfort in the good memories she gave us.
    Sue P.