by Ryan Labadens, US Navy Public Affairs
Sometimes when a person passes – someone who has touched so many lives – it can leave holes of sorrow in the hearts of many. But these are holes that are quickly filled with the fond feelings of the joy that this person brought to others.
Brillia Hudson, a resident who lived onboard Naval Construction Battalion Center (NCBC) Gulfport, Mississippi, was one of those joy-givers and cheer-spreaders whose presence, while missed, will be long felt even though she is no longer physically with us. Hudson, who was a 76-year-old retired school teacher and widow of James William Hudson, Sr., a U.S. Army engineer who died while serving during the Vietnam War, passed away Oct. 29, 2020. Her children held a private service for her family and close friends Nov. 6.
Hudson had moved back to the Gulf Coast after retiring as a teacher of 40 years. Those who knew her said she had a servant’s heart. For many of the holidays throughout the year, Hudson prepared meals or treats for the first responders, Navy Housing staff and other department staff onboard NCBC Gulfport that she would deliver to them, all in the spirit of giving back to the military community and spreading holiday cheer.
“The first time I met her I was so impressed with what she was doing – delivering some meals to our security personnel over at the gate out by Pass Road, which is right outside the housing service center office,” said Charles Taylor, Navy Housing installation program director at NCBC Gulfport. “She then came over to the housing service center office and had another big box of plates that she was offering for the housing personnel. What was so impressive about that, and with everything she did, was the fact that she was so giving – that never ceased for the few short years that I knew her.”
Lt. Col. Donald Dudley, NCBC Gulfport Security Department chief of police, remembered his first interaction with Hudson when he was originally working as a guard out by the base gates.
“When I first met Mrs. Hudson, she came up to the gate – and it was on a Thanksgiving of 2014 – and I had heard from the other guards that she did this every year. No matter what holiday it was, she brought the guards food at the gates, and she also brought enough for whatever shift was working that day at the security building,” said Dudley.
Hudson also volunteered regularly in her local community, with her church, and through the United Service Organization (USO) onboard NCBC as well, helping out and caring for the young Sailors and troops who reside on base.
“I certainly believe that she felt that all of those young folks over there were her young’uns because she was always so loving and so giving, and trying to do something for everyone that she could,” said Taylor. “Anytime, anything that she could do for anybody, she would do it.”
That family familiarity and sense of service is what struck Dudley most about Hudson.