Mr. Cordie O. Hudkins, Jr.
Casdorph & Curry Funeral Home
110 B Street
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Cordie O. Hudkins Jr., 74, of Scott Depot, died Sunday, October 14, 2012, at St. Mary's Hospital, Huntington, following a lengthy illness. He was born March 23, 1938, in South Charleston, and raised in St. Albans. He was preceded in death by his parents, Cordie O. and Opal Gay Hudkins.
Left to cherish his memory are his brother, Jerome (Linda) of Ashville, Pa.; his wife, Lenora Legg Hudkins; son, Gary Hudkins (Jennifer) of Howell, Mich.; and daughters, Lisa Hudkins Myers (JoDean) and Elizabeth Hudkins Rice (Michael) of Statesville, N.C. Also surviving are his beloved grandchildren, Aaron, Nathaniel and Christina Myers, Caleb and Elijah Rice and Madeline "Maddie" Hudkins; along with a host of friends.
As a young boy, his family took at least a one-week vacation at a state park in West Virginia. One year, when he was in the fifth or sixth grade, a park superintendent and his wife taught him to fly fish, and all through high school he thought what a wonderful thing it would be to someday be a park superintendent. He had a desire to know why things in nature worked the way they did. The study of physical and natural science, he knew, would enable him to better understand the world we all live in. Because the study of chemistry would likely lead to a career indoors, he chose to major in biology, with the idea at the back of his mind that he would someday be employed by a state or national park. When he graduated from high school, he knew he wanted to attend college but felt he lacked the maturity and focus necessary to apply himself to that purpose. Consquently, he spent four years working his way around many of the western states, enjoying the beautiful scenery and developing the motivation to study for a college degree, which he hoped would lead to a career in the out-of-doors.
He attended Morris Harvey College (subsequently the University of Charleston) in West Virginia and graduated in 1965 with a degree in biology. Immediately after graduation, he took the civil service examination for park superintendent and was hired shortly thereafter by the West Virginia Department of Natural Resources State Park System. He began his career with this department as an assistant superintendent of the 6,000-acre Babcock State Park. From there, he worked as superintendent of Cedar Creek State Park, North Bend State Park and Pipestem State Park, often referred to as the "crown jewel" of the State Park System.
In 1977 he was transferred from Pipestem to the central office in Charleston as a district administrator for the southern part of the state. In the same year, he was promoted to assistant chief in charge of the planning section. When several projects were completed under his direction, he was appointed chief in charge of the operations section. In 1989 he returned to the planning section, which at that time had expanded to embrace planning, engineering and maintenance to again deal with a backlog of projects.
Finally, in 1990, he was appointed chief of the West Virginia State Park System, and remained in this position until his retirement in 2000. During his career, Mr. Hudkins rallied citizens and employees of the park system in order to defeat two attempts at privatizing state park facilities. Upon his retirement, the Charleston Daily Mail wrote, "West Virginia's park system will be in someone else's hands today. No, that's not quite right. For the past 10 years, outgoing park's chief, Cordie Hudkins, has managed the system with his heart, not his hands. By all accounts, Hudkins' passion has transformed a neglected, antiquated system into one of the nation's finest. 'Cordie's contributions are among the primary reasons our parks rank among the best in the nation,' says John Rader, director of the state Division of Natural Resources. 'He will be greatly missed.'"
A celebration of his life will be held at the Cordie Hudkins Conference Room at Pipestem State Park's McKeever Lodge on Wednesday, October 17, at 1 p.m.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations in his memory be made to the West Virginia State Parks Foundation, Inc., 324-4th Avenue, South Charleston, WV 25303.