Herbert Horatio “Hub” Dudley was born in Cordele, Georgia in 1897. “Hub” came to Dublin with his parents, Clayton D. Dudley and Katie Ford Dudley. The Dudleys came here for a new beginning, a beginning which led to a dream which still lives on today almost twelve decades later.
Clayton Dudley set out to build a business empire to meet the needs of African-Americans, who were not being completely served. “Hub” adopted that same philosophy.
“Hub's philosophy on life was to build businesses and offer what was needed by the black community," his niece, Thomaseanor Pearson, remarked. "Whatever we had, we had because it was needed," Mrs. Pearson told Theresa Harvard of the Courier Herald in a 1996 interview.
Herbert Dudley married Mayme Ford, a Washington, D.C. school teacher. Her sister, Jenny Ford, was the mother of Thomaseanor Pearson. He and Mayme virtually adopted Jenny’s daughter, Mayme Thomaseanor, who would marry Alfred Pearson, Sr. to become the matriarch and patriarch of the Pearson family in Dublin.
The Dudleys opened a meat market and grocery store in 1922 in the building now occupied by Dudley Funeral Home. Over the next two decades, the father and son team built an empire along East Jackson Street and the Five Points area of downtown.
There was a savings and loan, a restaurant, The Dudley Motel (modernized in 1958,) the Laborers-Mechanics Realty and Investment Company (a savings and loan association), a shoe shop, a saw mill, a roller skating rink, a drug store, a poolroom, a barbershop, a guest house, The Laurens Casket Company, Dudley's Funeral Home, and in September 1936, the Amoco # 2 service station. Dudley established a beauty shop and named it for his foster daughter, Thomaseanor, who was never a beautician. The Dudleys also developed “Dudley’s Retreat” in the rear of the service station as a gathering place for the community. During World War II, Dudley worked to establish a USO for black servicemen on South Lawrence Street.
For most of his adult life, “Hub” Dudley was known as a healer, a mediator and a man of impeccable honesty and trustworthiness. Thomaseanor Pearson once told the story that her “Duddy” convinced Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. from staging a massive demonstration in Dublin over unfair labor practices. King stayed at Dudley’s motel on East Jackson Street, then the major east-west traffic artery through Georgia. She also remembered the night he stayed at the Dudley Motel. Pearson, who was initially scared because of the fear that King was being tracked, met the American icon in person and fondly recalled the night she stayed up “all night” talking to the civil rights champion. Mrs. Pearson also remembered another Civil rights advocate, Atlanta Mayor and U.N.
Ambassador, Andrew Young, stopping into their business.
“Hub” Dudley was a born giver. In fact, he was the “Colored Chairman” of the multi racial United Givers Fund in the 1960s. A long time supporter of the American Red Cross, Dudley helped to lead War Bond drives during World War II and the establishment of a public housing project for African Americans, which was named for his mother Katie Dudley. A life long member and leader of St. Paul A.M.E. Church, Dudley helped to enlarge and modernize the Colored 4H Camp of Georgia on the current grounds of Riverview Golf Course.
In his early years, Dudley remained loyal to the Republican party, the party of Abraham Lincoln. Dudley organized a Voter’s League in the mid 1950s. Later, he became the essential keystone for candidates seeking political offices. During the 1940s and 1950s, Hub was often courted by the members of the Herschel Lovett and Sheriff Carlus Gay factions for his critical endorsement.
Known by many important African American figures of his day, “Hub” was a friend of George Washington Carver and composer W.C. Handy.
Courier Herald columnist and former minor league baseball pitcher, “Bo” Whaley, came to admire Dudley, who took in, boarded and mentored Sammy Buell and Bill Causion, the Dublin team’s first black players.
Hub Dudley’s wonderful life ended on June 4, 1965. Long time friend, Herman Wiggs, commented, “The twinkle in his eye symbolized inspiration for everyone who knew him. In a day when our race still is in need of advertisement as human beings, Mr. Dudley, in my book, was about the finest public relations man Dublin has ever had. He was kind, clean cut and gracious.”
An anonymous friend wrote in an opinion letter to the Courier Herald, “He was a great man and a misunderstood one in many instances. He loved people, all people, regardless of race. He always had a conversation for anyone he met and was known by all as being talkative. He helped so many people, at one time he was on as much as $445,000 worth of notes for other people. There are so many ways he helped people. Your paper wouldn't hold it all.”
Dudley was buried in the family plot on the summit of the hill along the main drive of the cemetery which he and his father established in the Scottsville neighborhood of Northeast Dublin next to his parents and beside his beloved Mayme, who was most likely I suspect, the real tie that bound the Dudley family and our community.
In summing up “Hub” Dudleys life, let’s look to his own words when he commented on the outstanding work of Dublin native and Ford Motor Company inventor, Claude Harvard. Dudley proclaimed, “Genius knows no color or creed. And, the world loves a contributor to civilization” And therein lines the reason why this great man was so loved by nearly all of the people he ever helped along his highway to heaven.