WILLCOX Cowboy Hall of Fame inductees

JIM HUDSON (20)
1927-1986
1984 COWBOY HALL OF FAME INDUCTEE



The following biography was written at the time of Mr. Hudson's induction.

When Jim Hudson talks about his ranch, horses and the years he's spent as a professional cowboy, his face lights up and a certain tone of voice takes over. "It's what turns me on," Hudson says.

Sitting in his ranch house at Rancho Sacatal in Dos Cabezas, Hudson relates years of history surround his birth at the Hudson Ranch at the foothills of the Chiricahua Mountains. It includes his taking over and working the ranch at the young age of 15 and his continual years of being a professional rodeo cowboy along with successfully running his ranch. Those years also include being named World Champion Cowboy in roping in 1941. In the midst of saddles, hats, buckles and a setting of a home that is warm as well as elegant, the conversation with Hudson would make anyone want to lead the life of a cowboy who has found the formula for success.

His parents traveled from Blanco, Texas in a covered wagon in 1898 and built what is now the Hudson Ranch around homesteaded land. It was at the foothills of the Chiricahua Mountains, on the ranch, where Hudson was born, the youngest of nine children.

Fifteen years later, when the elder Hudson and his wife, Delia Byler Hudson died, Hudson took on the responsibility of running the ranch. His sister Mildred, who was 19, took on the duties of administrator and Hudson managed the cattle. He also developed an interest in rodeoing. "I made all the decisions at a young age," Hudson said. "There were a lot of bad ones...and one or two good ones." Through the years he and his sister bought out all the other heirs and he later bought out her interest. He managed her ranch in the Safford area for a time, until she sold it.

Hudson loved the ranch life and it carried more importance to him than his schoolwork. He had to drop out of school because of his work on the ranch but he was tutored for several years after that by a teacher from the El Dorado School, Earl Goodman. Hudson speaks fondly of Goodman, remembering him as one of his favorite people. "School was funny in those days," Hudson said. "A person could get kicked out for roping and rodeoing and now they give scholarships for it. I guess I was born about 50 years too soon."

Hudson rodeoed part-time through the years, never neglecting his ranch. Hudson said being a cowboy has kept him young.

When asked if he ever planned to retire, Hudson replied, "I hope not. I feel as though I've been retired all my life."

Hudson said the rodeo has been about the only hobby he can manage and afford and it's something he plans to stick with.

Being a working cowboy running the old Hudson ranch for so many years and then buying Rancho Sacatal years ago has made for a busy and full schedule. "I went into debt when I was 15 years old and I've never been out since," Hudson said. But he said he'd do it all over again if he could, maybe even three or four times. "It's the freedom of it all and the chance to work for yourself that I've always liked," he said.

Hudson has been in love with his horses ever since he can remember. "I've had four outstanding horses," he said, "and I've been in love with all of them." He refers to Chito, Thistle, Trigger and Mark. Thistle, a red roan quarter horse, will be going into the Hall of Fame next year. "A good horse is born," Hudson says, "and when they're born that way there's no way you can ruin them."

Hudson was roping with his partner, Jim Brister, when they won the World Championship for Team Roping in 1941. Hudson was only 23 at the time. He's listed in the Cowboy Hall of Fame in Colorado Springs and with the Professional Rodeo Association, for his achievements.

He's roped professionally for 50 years, continuously, and still does it on a regular basis, so he can be considered a professional roper. At the same time he, along with his wife, Virginia, and son, Marvin, run Rancho Sacatal, made up of 32,000 acres.

Jim Hudson was killed in a ranching accident in 1986, at the age of 59.