I first met Rick Hudson in the office of the Sayre, Oklahoma City Manager, Jack McKennon. Jack had invited me down to meet the newly hired Prison Warden. Jack, being a part of out Trinity Family, knew that we’d been praying for several years about the new prison here. We had also been praying that the upper-level management personnel would be born-again believers. So to me it was a big deal to meet up with the new warden.
I remember vividly that meeting that day. After we did our introductions, handshakes, etc., I told Rick, ‘I’ve been praying for you for three years.” After I left the office that day I wished that I hadn’t said that to him. I thought….that’ll probably scare him off…..but it didn’t. It wasn’t long after Rick moved here that his entire family began to come to church with us. Rick’s family consisted of his wife, Jan; two daughters, Kealan and Taylor, and a son, Cooper.
Rick made it possible for us to take a team into the prison and pray over the entire facility. It’s a great story….but it’s for another time. Rick and I quickly became the best of friends. I had a Friday afternoon small group consisting of Jack, the City Manager, a retired executive banker of one of largest banks in Oklahoma, a young man who secured oil leases, a farmer……and Rick. Rick would often stay after our meetings and we’d have some great talks. I remember one day our meeting subject was prayer; Rick stayed after the meeting that day and said, “Andy, I want you to teach me how to pray.”. I encouraged him to start coming to our regular Wednesday morning prayer time, which he did. In fact, he hardly ever missed after that day. I remember telling him that this prayer thing is more “caught”, than “taught”. And he caught it! A month or two after that conversation I asked him to pray at one of our small group meetings and he prayed as if he’d been doing it for years……and it was ‘real’, not just a bunch of words.
We spent a lot of time together and I really got to know Rick. HIs job as Warden, of the largest prison in the state up to that point, was not ‘just a job’ to Rick. He put his whole heart and soul into it, always believing he could make a difference in the lives of the, better than 1500, inmates in the North Fork Correctional Facility. Some of the first inmates to arrive were from Wisconsin. And there was one of them who was infamous for causing trouble. He’d been locked up most of his adult life and had caused problems in every facility he’d been in, including inciting riots. We’d pray for this guy every week….because Rick believed that he was salvageable and ‘worth it’! He cared about the future of this lifelong troublemaker.
In my whole life I’ve never seen anyone in a leadership position that received as much respect, honor and loyalty as Rick did from his employees. They all knew that he was deeply concerned about them, and he would often invite me to meet with him and someone who was going through a rough time. Simply put….his employees loved him and they knew that they could trust him.
Rick left us about 14 years ago as a result of a brain tumor and it left a huge ‘gap’ for all of us here…….me especially. It’s hard for me, even today, to write through the tears. I do take solace in the assurance that I’ll see him again soon. I just don’t ‘get it’ sometimes…..how those who have such a knack of making the world a better place have to go so soon. But again, I take comfort in knowing that the Father has it all well in hand.
Rick Hudson…..I wish you could have known him like I did. You’d totally agree that he was a VIP; and not just with me…..He was a VIP with every person who ever came in contact with him!
**If you enjoyed this post…..you’ll surely like this one too: “Party at the Prison” (click on red print)
PS-There’s a lot of my regular blog readers that knew Rick. I know that your comments and feedback would be treasured by Jan, Kealan, Taylor and Coop.