Pastors' Memoirs

Melissa A. Hudgins, 1933-2003

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  Melissa Hudgins was such a special person. She was constantly going to school and getting degrees along the way. She graduated from Richmond Professional Institute, got her masters degree in English at The College of William and Mary, obtained a Private Detective License and became a Diaconal Minister.

  Melissa’s Diaconal Ministry centered on her chaplaincy at Riverside Hospital, Newport News. Melissa accepted any call to be present, day or night, as well as fulfilling the hours that were assigned to her. She became a chaplain to the nurses, physicians, and staff while visiting faithfully and compassionately with the patients under her charge. Often, Bill Olewiler’s voicemail had a message from Melissa in the middle of the night asking prayer for her and for persons in special need.

  Melissa could not do enough for her home church, St. Paul UMC in the Rappahannock District. She oversaw the church’s outreach, presided over the most socially involved Sunday school class, led a support group for persons in grief, and responded to all needs to the best of her ability. Melissa was a friend and neighbor to black and white. Melissa loved people from all walks of life. Melissa did not judge, she accepted. She never voiced an unkind opinion or spoke unkindly about someone. She was a woman you could trust.

  Melissa started her day early and went on to the wee hours of the morning, not to mention driving a couple of hundred miles in the process. She prayed constantly — when she woke up, before she ate, during her meal and after her meal. It didn’t stop there. She was on the phone with friends offering words of comfort and prayers at their time of need or just because she wanted to. She always had a smile on her face and gave it to people around her. She would make sure she kept in touch with her family. Melissa would drive 200 miles on her niece Donna’s birthday just to wish her a happy birthday, then drive home because she had somewhere else she was expected.

  Melissa was not punctual. Her nephew and niece would tell her to be at their home two hours before the event. She would still arrive late, but she was prepared to stay. She had enough clothes in her car that she didn’t have to buy anything for a year. Her car was her purse; everything was in it. When the weather warmed up, you could find Melissa at the beach, with her Bible, beach chair, and lotion. She loved to walk and did so every day for at least 45 minutes.

  Melissa had a very good heart. She would give her last dollar away. On several occasions Melissa borrowed money so she could help friends and family. She didn’t ask for the money back. She gave from the goodness of her heart and meant it. Melissa by no means was wealthy financially, but spiritually she overflowed.

Melissa Hudgins did not have any children, but was survived by nephews Don Ray Hudgins and Paul G. Hudgins, and sister Joanne Sumner. She was very proud of her family and very pleased Don Ray Hudgins and Donna Blankenship, her nephew and niece, could be present at her consecration in June a year ago. She is greatly missed.

  Melissa’s funeral and memorial service on April 1, 2003, at St. Paul United Methodist Church featured two hours of music and testimony. The Rev. William E. Olewiler, her pastor; the Rev. Rudy Smith, her district superintendent; and the Rev. Douglas Watson, her chaplain supervisor from Riverside Hospital, presided and led in sharing memories.

— Donna Blankenship and William E. Olewiler

 

 

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