Buffalo Trails Coffee House will be closed to regular business while owner Michele Staggs hosts an open house for Wil Hudson’s friends from 3-5 p.m. Jan. 24. The event offers a chance for his friends to relate stories of the longtime Creston resident — and until 2012, a regular letter to the editor writer — who died Jan. 10 at the age of 85, well-known for his trademark beard, strong opinions and quick wit.
Following are remembrances by two of his friends, Buffalo Trails Coffee House owner Michele Staggs and Dianne Grant:
BY MICHELE STAGGS
You cannot pick your family, but sometimes you’re lucky enough that people pick you. Wil Hudson picked our little coffee shop very soon after we opened. Morning coffee soon became afternoon coffee, as well, and soon Wil was a regular. Some people thought that maybe he wasn’t a desirable patron in his scruffy ZZ Top beard, baggy coat, hat and shades, not to mention his somewhat opinionated personality. We, however, fell in love with him almost immediately. Wil became part of our Buffalo Trails family.
The rebellious streak, that spark, that gleam in his eye when he knew he was going against common opinion was so intriguing. We loved his phrasing, his wit, his incredible smarts. He was our spell check, history teacher and our philosopher, but mostly our friend. Wil would come in, we would get his red Pharmasave mug down on the counter (courtesy of his very close friends Mike and Barb), and top up his mug with Bison Spirit coffee. The darker the coffee the better, and don’t forget the straw that he kept in his hat for multiple uses. He would put his money up and say, “Put the residue in the tippaccino.” He said this every time, enjoying the routine. The girls here loved him: Amanda, Catherine, Reanna, Lexi, Michelle and Jess just to name a few.
Wil lived his life to his own beat. He was unique. A “hypocritical vegetarian” he liked to call himself. Great memories of his time spent in San Francisco and up north were always entertaining to listen to. He loved my kids, Libby, Miah and Hannah, and got a kick out of Libby calling me Home Slice. He came in one day when I was bundled up in a sweater, and he said, “You look home slicish as hell today, Michele.” That just makes me smile every time I think of it. I loved the twinkle in his eye when the kids came in to say hi. He showed such love for babies and had a healthy respect for the miracle of life.
One day, I thought Wil was asleep, eyes closed, hat pulled down. I asked him if he was tired and he said, “No, I have memorized every single word on the chalkboard and I would be happy to recite it,” which he did flawlessly.
Friends of Wil’s soon made Buffalo Trails their visiting spot and our BT family grew. Along with Barb and Mike Ramaradhya came Bruce Paterson, Bob Deacon, Jennifer Hutzkal, Dianne Grant, George and Louise Esch, Don and Betty Falck, Maureen Nichol, Sandy, Gary and his new baby, Christopher, and Art from Powell River, just to name a few of the many. Discussions of politics, history, literature, human nature, articles in the Advance, trains, boats and, of course, animals, especially cats, happened here on an almost daily basis. The love he had for friends and his fellow man was hard to see through the gruff exterior but lived so strong in his heart.
We had the pleasure of being a small part of the adventurous life of Wil Hudson’s and we are much richer for it. I picture you sipping on your coffee in your spot at your table at Buffalo Trails and I feel joy. Thank you, Wil, for your character, loyalty and insight, but most of all your friendship. Your spirit is on that train.
Rest in peace, Wil.
BY DIANNE GRANT
Wil Hudson was born in Wisconsin, moved to San Francisco, and eventually settled in Vancouver, where he made his living as a printer. By all accounts, he was a damn good one, too. He pioneered new typeset style, and spent some years on Baffin Island during the 1960s teaching printing techniques to the Inuit. During that time, he also translated some of their native language.
He moved to Powell River where he also ran a printing shop, and had many good connections there. Later in his life, he decided to move to the Kootenays, with Nelson being his first choice. However, the high rent there forced him to look for other arrangements, and Creston became his new home.
He devoted much of his time to his great passions: railways and ships. He owned a model railway, and built a replica of a steamship from scratch, which he worked on for over 17 years. He also loved cats, and there was no stray he would not take in and try to help, even if he went short of food himself.
Wil made many, many friends during his coffee shop visits around town, and his long beard and baritone voice were distinctive trademarks. He could often be a thorn in someone’s side, saying things as they were and not mincing words. But he was never cruel or vindictive, simply observant and articulate at expressing what he saw.
He lived a full, long life and will be missed by all who knew him