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Hudson Jayne

Hudson Jayne
09/23/1942 - 01/10/2014

Hudson Jayne treasured the memory of his wife, Nancy, adored his grandchildren, and loved a good Zane Grey book. He knew how to properly cook a bacon and egg sandwich, and enjoyed dark chocolate candy bars and vanilla bean ice cream. His philosophy on life was "Do what you want, do what you enjoy, and don't be afraid."

Hudson Jayne was born on September 23, 1942 in Chillicothe, OH and died at his home in Meridian, ID on January 10, 2014. He was 71 years old.

Hudson was the fifth of eight children. His parents, Hudson and Marie Canavotto Jayne, lived in a community known as "The Reservation"—an abandoned Army based turned into a housing development for the employees of the nearby prison where his father worked as a plumber and maintenance man. Hudson described his father as a funny, intelligent, and interesting man and believed that it was his father's influence that led him to learn engineering, become a good dancer, and to be an avid reader. His mother, who worked in the school cafeteria in Unioto High School, was "magical and fun to be around" and although Hudson admitted that his parents were quite different, their marriage worked.

Hudson recalled often that his favorite place in his childhood home was the basement, where he found the peace and privacy he needed for reading books. The love of reading became a life-long passion and he was rarely seen, over the course of his entire life, without a book in his hand, whether it was science fiction, a western, history, or even finances.

Hudson graduated from Unioto High School in 1960. After working at construction jobs for a year or so, he decided to enroll in The Ohio State University. His best friend, Bill Matz, enrolled with him. Hudson went on to earn a Master's in Engineering, but admitted that he spent most of his time "partying and chasing girls."

For the next couple of decades he worked for a number of companies, including General Electric, Proctor & Gamble, and the Bechtel Corporation. He had a colorful career and designed such things as Star War lasers, automobiles, and even Keebler Cookies! He was the most proud of his work on designing and constructing one of the first automated, computer-controlled chemical plants in Mont Belvieu, TX.

He was married to Kathleen Vitale in 1966, but the marriage lasted just a few short years. Their son, Hudson Patrick Jayne, stayed with his mother and was later adopted by his step-father. He considered that period of his life to have been his most difficult and was marked by a struggle with alcoholism and difficult choices.

Hudson met the true love of his life, Nancy Newton Mason, at a singles dance held at the Whispering Hills Country Club. A tumultuous courtship ensued and after an "ultimatum" by Nancy they were married on October 2, 1972, over lunch. He and Nancy, along with her daughter Tina, formed a new family. Hudson and Nancy later added a son, Reginald Gerard Jayne, in 1975.

Nancy passed away as a result of lung cancer in 1991, and Hudson felt as though all the things he and his wife had planned for their life together evaporated. Her death was the most tragic event of his life. He remarked once that "You plan for this future, and then your future dies."

Hudson never remarried and often reminisced that Nancy "was a positive person with me and loved me a great deal, and I loved her." Hudson's favorite memory of being with her was when they danced because that memory always "brought a smile" to his face.

Hudson retired from the engineering business a year later, and tried his hand at rental real estate. Ten years after that he sold all of his rental properties so that he could devote his time to his many hobbies, but mostly to be with his grandchildren, Conner, Nancy, Regina, Marie, and Roberta. He was devoted to them and rarely went a full day without seeing one of them. During the summer and weekends, almost always one or more of his grandchildren spent the night with him, at his home. Taking them to get new dresses and ice cream was his standard operating procedure.

He also traveled extensively with his grandchildren. He cherished every moment he got to spend with them, whether it was taking an infant in diapers cross-country to show off to other family or taking them to see the giant Sequoias, Carlsbad Caverns, Mount Rushmore, Glacier National Park, the Grand Canyon, Zion National Park, or Bryce Canyon. The sight of a senior citizen, often alone with three over-sugared young girls often drew a second-glance, but Hudson relished every single moment. Spoiling them, being friends with them, and helping to shape who they were became the delight—and primary focus—of his later life. His grandchildren gave him a purpose to live and delight in living.

When not spending time with his grandchildren, Hudson took pleasure in a number of pastimes. His favorite book was "Gone with the Wind," his favorite song was "The Great Speckled Bird," and his favorite movie was "The Godfather." His favorite musical was "The Music Man" because it always reminded him of the time when Chillicothe, OH experienced its own version of Professor Harold Hill when a man named Jack Gillenwater arrived and began extolling the virtues of music and band uniforms for children. Hudson remembered, "He sold the hell out of accordions and he sold one to my sister Patsy. To this day she can only play one song, 'Lady of Spain.'" Whenever Hudson watched the movie or saw it performed live, its humor and chaos took him back to his youth in Chillicothe.

Hudson read books across all spectrums, but his favorite author, from youth to death, was Zane Grey. His favorite actor was John Wayne. He was also absolutely explicit regarding his perspective on how to make a proper bacon and egg sandwich. "You fry the bacon and you get the bacon grease; then you take the eggs, cook the eggs in the bacon grease, dip the bread in the bacon grease, and put a lot of pepper and salt on it." Hudson had a triple bypass in his mid-60s.

On pondering death, he commented, "As I think about it, I have been happy in my adult life. I've been happy probably thirty, thirty-five years of it, because I learned how to enjoy what I can enjoy. I enjoyed my years with my wife very much, and in the last ten years, I really enjoyed my grandchildren. I get more enjoyment out of them than anybody has. Mostly, I look at my life and most of it's been damned happy, and so, I can't complain too much."

Hudson Jayne left his mark on his entire family. "There is no point in being afraid of anything. Anything that attacks you is either going to succeed and you'll succumb or you will overcome it." He also believed that it was important to "stay away from unhappy people … always enjoy a good time as much as you can, as long as you can."

Hudson Jayne was preceded in death by both of his wives. He is survived by all of his siblings, his children, and grandchildren. His favorite places were the National Parks, Bryce and Zion Canyons in particular. His ashes will be scattered at Bryce Canyon later this year at his request.


Published in Idaho Statesman on Jan. 25, 2014
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