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Robert Harrison Hudgins
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Obituary for Robert Harrison Hudgins

Robert Harrison Hudgins went home to be with the Lord peacefully on September 2, 2018. He was born in West Palm Beach, Florida, on October 15, 1932 to Mattie Corbin Harrison Hudgins and Lynwood Lewis Hudgins.
Known as Bob to most, he attended Florida Military Academy in St. Augustine and then was graduated from The Bolles School in Jacksonville, Florida. He attended the University of Florida. One semester before graduation he had the opportunity to purchase a restaurant in Gainesville, Florida, and thus began his business career. He then served in the United States Army and United States Army Reserve.
After his service he sold his restaurant in Gainesville and then returned to his hometown of West Palm Beach to join the family businesses: Hudgins Restaurant and Hudgins Fish Company. Friends and family enjoyed his myriad fun stories of some of the patrons who frequented the restaurant – well-known folks such as Art Linkletter, Perry Como, Gregory Peck, and the Kennedy family. It was not unusual for magazines as well as out of state restaurants and country clubs to ask for a recipe from the Hudgins Restaurant with the desire to publish it - “Gourmet” magazine was one of the inquirers who ultimately published a Hudgins Restaurant recipe.
Bob and his children, Terri and Alan, later moved to Gainesville where Bob became a real estate broker. He met and married Jean Aliff Hudgins May 11, 1974 after his eight year old son, Alan, asked her, “Will you marry us?”
After finding site locations for Sonny’s Restaurants, and Sonny Tillman decided to franchise the company, Bob became interested in owning Sonny’s restaurants himself. Consequently, he ultimately acted on his dream. He and Jean moved to Lakeland where they opened and managed two Sonny’s Restaurants. Gainesville’s loss was Lakeland’s gain.
The restaurants were sold in 2009, and Bob and Jean enjoyed traveling in retirement. The timing was perfect because much to their joy, their first grandchild was born soon thereafter. They now were free to spend even more time with their family.
He and Jean were soul mates for 44 years. His greatest joys were derived from his profound love and relationship and faithful and fun partnership with her, his children, and their spouses. He always felt he had six wonderful children and once wrote to them: “Although three of you are my children by marriage, you have pleased me so and filled my heart with pride and joy as though you were my own. You all make me feel loved and very lucky to have ended up with each of you as part of my family.” His most recent great loves were his three grandchildren: Maddie, Paige, and Parr. It was fun to observe his eyes shining with pride as they romped and played and then would run to hug their “GrandBob.”
He cherished the memories of fun times spent with them fishing, traveling and being loyal Florida Gator fans. He was a faithful Gator as could be said of all his children and their spouses – loving all Gator sports. In fact, he, Jean, and his son-in-law Drew first met his future son-in-law, Houghton, at a national championship game when by chance they and Tiffany saw him in the stadium. Until recently, Bob and Jean never missed a Florida Gator football game – anywhere! It was a family tradition to support the University of Florida!
Having a special passion for those suffering from childhood diabetes like his son, Alan, Bob served on the Board of the Florida Camp for Children and Youth with Diabetes, Inc. While owning Sonny’s, he and Jean sponsored Lakeland Volunteers in Medicine, believing in the mission of this agency.
Bob enjoyed studying history, always proud to be a descendent of Benjamin Harrison V, a founding father, and Presidents William Henry Harrison and Benjamin Harrison.
He and his family were active members of the Gainesville Parkview Baptist Church, teaching Sunday school and chaperoning events. After moving to Lakeland, they became members of First United Methodist Church.
Bob was predeceased by his father and mother, his daughter Terri Lynn Hudgins Link, and his son, Robert Alan Hudgins. Losing his son, Alan, in 2000 and his daughter, Terri, in 2006 was devastating for Bob. He always felt blessed that his faith, his love of God, and the love of his wife, family, and friends helped make the pain somewhat bearable.
He is survived by his wife, Jean Aliff Hudgins; his daughter, Tiffany Hudgins Parry (Thomas Houghton Parry IV); his son-in-law, Drew Richard Link (Shannon); his daughter-in-law, Mary Kate Walker; his granddaughters Madison Claire Parry, Frances Paige Parry, and his grandson, Thomas Houghton Parry V.
Those wishing to do so may make a donation to Entrepreneurial Studies at Florida Southern College, c/o Dr. Robert Tate, 111 Lake Hollingsworth Drive, Lakeland, FL 33801 or to the R. Alan Hudgins Memorial Scholarship Fund, Stetson University, 4214 North Woodland Blvd, Unit 8286, Deland, FL 32723.
A memorial celebration will be held Friday, September 7, 2018 at 1:00 P.M. in the afternoon at First United Methodist Church, 72 Lake Morton Drive, Lakeland, Florida 33801.


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Previous Events

Service

Friday

7

Sep

1:00 PM
First United Methodist Church Sanctuary

72 Lake Morton Drive
Lakeland, Florida 33801

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