Hank Hudspeth, 1919-2019

As is the way of things, Hank Hudspeth’s 1937 arrival at Rice was a little noted event, marked only by this small card that all new students filled out at registration:

Note that he wasn’t a freshman–he’d done a year at North Texas Agricultural College (today’s UT-Arlington) where his father worked in the business office. He came to Rice in the footsteps of his older brother, Emmet, who was an outstanding student here.

Hank arrived in possession of what was then an unusual skill set for a young man. He could type–fast–and take shorthand, also fast. He parlayed this into a paid position as the secretary for the Biology Department, a job that provided money to live on and a bit of change in his pocket while he went to school. He worked on the Campanile while he was here and I was frankly a little surprised to discover that he was a member of the Rally Club. During his second year in campus a sweet (and good looking) new freshman showed up and Hank was hooked. He would be married to Demaris Delange ’42 for 70 years before her death in 2015.

Hank graduated from Rice in 1940 then headed to law school, one year at SMU and the rest at Texas (he finished first in his class), with an intermission for naval service in World War II. After that his life was his wife, his children, his law practice, and Rice. His devotion to Rice was legendary and his impact on the institution proved to be wide and deep. He was indefatigable and somehow always cheerful in our service. He never said no and he seemed to be everywhere–active in the Alumni Association, the Shepherd Society, the Friends of Fondren, and more. He was an associate of Wiess College and served on the Rice Board. Besides being a generous donor himself, Hank raised money for many cultural and academic projects at Rice. (If you hold one of the Autrey Chairs, you can thank Hank Hudspeth.) He was one of the prime movers behind the Woodson’s acquisition of the magnificent Julian Huxley Collection. And above all Hank taught. He taught political science at Rice for nearly 50 years, rivaling Joseph Davies of Biology for most students taught in a career, and influencing generations of them with his gentle but serious approach.

Hank gave his heart to Rice in a way I’ve seldom seen. He could never forget what the Institute had given him and he never stopped trying to bring those same gifts to others. Truly, his generosity, kindness, and good will were unforgettable. He expected the best of everyone, wanted us all to be successful, and saw every challenge at Rice as an opportunity for the university to improve, to move as he liked to say “from strength to strength.”

God bless Hank Hudspeth and may he rest in peace.




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12 Responses to Hank Hudspeth, 1919-2019

  1. Stephanie Rudd says:

    I have the greatest respect and fondness for Hank Hudspeth. I graded business law for him for three years. His and Demaris’ personal kindness to me made a lasting impression on me and taught me what a huge impact personal attention could have on someone. I saw him a few years ago and he still remembered what Christmas candy I had made for them while I was a student! What a loss to Rice but a blessing to all who knew him.

  2. Randy Brint says:

    I took his B-Law class in the late 60’s.

  3. William A Ćooke (formerly Chuoke) says:

    Hank Hudspeth was my business law professor in 1973. He was the instructor that I admired the most and remember most fondly from my days as a student. Not only was he a giant in the Rice community, but he was also a legend to those in the legal profession in Houston. In the late 1990’s, he invited me to his law office to discuss a real estate issue as we were adjacent landowners in Galveston County. We had a great time reminiscing about his teaching days at Rice and fortunately I had the chance to tell him how much I enjoyed his class. In his humble way, he exemplified the manners of a true southern gentleman. I knew when I left the meeting that, due to his advancing age, our paths would not likely cross again. I am so saddened to hear of his passing.

  4. Scott Hochberg says:

    Hank was a kind mentor with a twinkle in his eye that couldn’t help but to make you smile. I, too, took his B-law classes in the early 70s, and then enrolled in his class in “the adjudication of modern social issues” that met around his kitchen table at his home across Sunset. He opened a window for me into the role of the law in shaping (and being shaped by) our society, and I was fascinated and inspired. Hank touched the lives of so many students in similar ways, and then did all he could to make sure that Rice would remain vibrant for teachers and students (of all ages) to follow. Thanks, Hank.

  5. Jim Walzel '59 says:

    As an engineering student at Rice, I so appreciate and remember taking a class from Hank Hudspeth and Niels Nielson.

  6. Galloway Hudson - Wiess '60 says:

    Magnificent tribute to Hank Hudspeth. I thought about him when you wrote about Dr. C. a few days ago. As an engineering student taking ROTC, I had no room for academic courses, more’s the pity. I envy Jim Walzel’s exposure to them.

  7. Ellen Knapp Hohl Stutts says:

    I used to hear of Demaris and Hank Hudspeth often from my mother and aunt – the Knapp Sisters, Elizabeth and Carolyn. I believe they kept up with each other for some time.

  8. Owlcop says:

    I met him four or five years ago when he misplaced a new, rather large E Class on campus. I was surprised when he told me stories of his WW2 service and I realized that he was still driving. Oh, I found the car and he drove away happy.

  9. Regina Pappas Seale says:

    I had the good fortune to have Dr. Hudspeth for Business Law. He was a great professor and his class was one of my favorites. It was also very special to have his book, “Torts: A Baker’s Dozen,” as one of our texts for the class. I am so saddened to hear of his passing while we also mourn the passing of another Rice legend, “Doc C.” As a political science and philosophy major, I must admit that I always felt that these two departments were among Rice’s best and I felt so privileged not only to have had so many professors who were so outstanding in their fields but professors who truly cared and took the time to interact with, guide and support their students. The recent announcement of Dr. Ambler’s retirement marked another significant milestone and loss for the political science department. He is another great and legendary Rice professor and I was blessed to have had him for three amazing courses at Rice. While Rice has long been known for its outstanding science and math departments, its social studies program is, in my estimation, equally as outstanding. I owe a debt of gratitude to the many great professors I had at Rice, who through their teaching, mentoring and friendship, made my experience at Rice such a great and memorable one.

  10. Bryan A Domning says:

    Thanks very much, Melissa, for your beautifully written and illustrated tribute to yet another departed Rice legend, C.M. Hudspeth, Esq. A prince of a guy and both a lawyer’s lawyer and natural educator. The comments above reflect how well he and his wife were liked and respected. His was surely “a life well-lived.”
    It’s easy to understand why he ended up with a short nickname, but can anyone remind me why it was “Hank?”

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