North Jefferson News, Gardendale, AL

October 25, 2012

Warrior Mayor Rena Hudson looks forward to retirement

By Melanie Patterson
North Jefferson News

WARRIOR — After serving as mayor for 24 years, Rena Hudson thinks it’s high time for retirement.

Hudson sat in the mayor’s seat in Warrior from 1984 to 2000 and again from 2004 to 2012.

She did not run for re-election this year; instead, councilman Johnny Ragland was elected to the city’s top position.

Hudson’s daughter, attorney Jackie Wesson, will step up to fill part of the void that Hudson is leaving; Wesson was elected to fill the District 2, Place 2 council seat. Wesson and the other new council members will be sworn in on Nov. 5.

Wesson said that watching her mother filling the role of a public servant taught her some valuable life lessons.

“My mother taught me to do what is right,” she said, giving the example of Hudson recently speaking at a meeting to stand up for a man who was the subject of racism.

Wesson said her mother also taught her to “dedicate yourself to honest public service.”

At a retirement party given for Hudson on Thursday, hosted by Jane Sandlin and Sue Knopf, several people stood to tell the crowd what Hudson had done for them and what she meant to them.

Sandlin, with tears in her eyes, said Hudson is one of her best friends as well as a good wife, mother, grandmother and mayor.

Knopf, Sandlin’s sister, said their father, Jack Murphree, was mayor of Warrior. He served as mayor from 1966 to 1980; Hudson served as his clerk before she won election to the same office.

“You were admired, respected, needed and appreciated,” Knopf said to Hudson. “We’ve come to know you as a woman of character.”

City clerk Demetra Mixon, who has worked alongside Hudson since 2004, said Hudson is a tireless worker who “just pressed on” even when she was exhausted.

“She never missed a meeting. She didn’t miss anything,” Mixon said.

Another of Hudson’s daughters, Jean Martin, who was also at the retirement party, said that Hudson was mayor for all of Martin’s adult life.

“I’m not sure I can make the transition,” she said with a laugh.

Hudson, who is 77, plans to take care of her husband Bill and “catch up on 50 years of reading,” she said. “I just plan to kick back and enjoy it.”