Oren Benton Hudson Jr. died in his sleep on the 14th of May, 2019 at Providence Hospital in Anchorage, Alaska. He was 98. Oren was born in Stockton, Missouri on the 9th of June, 1920 to Anna and Oren Hudson, Sr. The eldest of three, he is survived by sister Mildred O’Brien and preceded in death by sister Juanita Hudson.
Oren began his flying career at Stapleton Field in Denver, Colorado achieving his pilot’s license in 1937. From there he flew throughout the Midwest as a commercial and corporate pilot. In 1941 he enlisted in the US Air Force and spent three years as an aircraft mechanic and pilot. He flew Piper J3 Cubs as a flight instructor for the WWII Civilian Pilot Training Program, did flight testing on Boeing’s Stearman, flew DC3’s for TWA and a Beechcraft Staggerwing for a national clothing store. In 1946 he delivered his first of many aircraft to Alaska, landing on the Chena River in Fairbanks. “I liked the country and I liked the people, so I stayed.”
While operating his Iliamna area flying service he met Ruth Grover, an adventuresome nurse from Idaho. They were married in 1951 and settled in a cabin they built in Nondalton. Several years later they moved to the hub village of Iliamna. There they operated Iliamna Air Taxi until 1966 and Hudson Air Taxi from Merrill Field in Anchorage for many years thereafter. Oren and Ruth had three children, Kerry, Kent and Guy.
Oren spent over 40,000 hours flying a wide variety of small aircraft. His favorites, a Cessna 170 (7,700 hrs), Beechcraft Bonanza (15,700 hrs) and his venerable Grumman Widgeon (11,200 hrs). Though he loved to fly and enjoyed riding his motorcycle, his greatest pleasure was in the association with his many friends and acquaintances. He was a lifetime member of the Quiet Birdmen and served as the local and national president of the OX5 Aviation Pioneers. In 2015 he was inducted into the Alaska Aviation Hall of Fame.
Oren is survived by his sister, three children, nine grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren. He is preceded in death by grand-daughter Jana Lee West, sister Juanita and his wife of fifty-six years, Ruth Grover Hudson.