Bob Hudson was born to play music.
“I had begged for a piano from the time I was six years old, but my parents could not afford one so I got an accordion that I played until I was 12,” says Hudson, one of the most popular music volunteers for seniors in the Alberni Valley for several decades.
The practice on the accordion helped Hudson know the chords he wanted to use to accompany his right hand and helped develop the style he has at the piano today.
The former school teacher was born in 1940. At the time his father was on his way to England and then Dieppe, where he was captured and spent the rest of the war in Stalag 8. Hudson’s mother moved to Vancouver to await the return of her husband and enrolled Hudson in the Ruth Morton Baptist Church Sunday School.
Hudson attended General Brock School and Van Tech, which he chose because of their science program. In 1958 he went to the University of BC for a year. But, in order to support his mother, separated from her father at that time, he worked for BC Tel for four years, reapplying later to UBC and finally graduating in 1965.
By this time, he had met Margaret, whom he married in 1965.
After taking his one year of teacher preparation, he applied for teaching positions. The first district to respond was Port Alberni, and since his brother-in-law lived here, he accepted.
“When I looked back, I feel blessed to have chosen this community,” he comments. “This is a great place without the cost and traffic of the Vancouver area, for example.
“Once here, I joined several organizations such as the Auxiliary RCMP (12 years); the Sproat Lake Fire Department (35 years). I also sang with “Timbre!” choral group for a number of years, including a special performance by the group at the Carnegie Hall in New York.”
Bob and Margaret have three children, all living in different communities in the province, and enjoy their seven grandchildren who visit them every summer in their house at the lake. Their house by the lake was a dream for Hudson, who had always wished to live closer to the water.
Hudson’s career as a teacher in the science department was held at ADSS, where he taught general science and biology, subjects he enjoyed very much. He also enjoyed his students, whose “warm greetings continue to brighten my life,” as he states.
Hudson’s interest in playing music for seniors began in Saskatchewan in 1976, as he visited his elderly grandmother. There he played at a seniors complex where she was living and then other seniors came with instruments and played and sang old songs.
After the opening of Fir Park Village in the early 1980s, he played the piano from time to time and once a month with his church group at the “Hymn Sing” sessions. He did the same when Echo Village opened in 1992. And, after the sudden passing of Gloria Venning, he was asked to conduct the weekly “Music Therapy” program at Fir Park.
“I now play weekly at Fir Park, Abbeyfield and Heritage Place as well as Westhaven and Echo Village once a month and also once a month at their “Hymn Sing” at Fir Park and Echo Villages,” says Hudson.
Every December, Hudson joins the RCMP carollers by playing Christmas songs on their visits to all the seniors’ homes in the Valley.
“I really enjoy being able to play the old songs and keep them lively, but far more than this, I enjoy the seniors and their response to music.”
Hudson, who continues being one of the most popular musicians in Port Alberni, was recently recognized by the Abbeyfield board of directors and presented with a certificate of appreciation, on behalf of the residents, for his volunteer work for more than 10 years.