Breaking Tampa Bay, Florida and national news and weather from Tampa Bay Online and The Tampa Tribune | TBO.com
  • Home

Tom McEwen

The late Tom McEwen, sports editor of The Tampa Times from 1958-62 before being named sports editor of The Tampa Tribune in 1962, graced the Tribune sports section with his award-winning column, The Morning After, and his Breakfast Bonus notes columns were a signature offering from the 19-time Florida Sports Writer of the Year. McEwen died in June, 2011 at the age of 88. His wife, Linda, occasionally contributes past columns and exerpts to this blog.

Email icon 16x16Contact Linda McEwen

Most Recent Entries
More
Monthly Archives

Hockey withdrawal tough on fans

Posted Oct 25, 2012 by TBO.com

Updated Oct 26, 2012 at 01:48 AM

It seems a look back is the only thing available, we can all hope, can’t we?

- Linda

—-

Withdrawal From Hockey Tough On Lightning Fans Sunday, May 7, 2006

TAMPA Miss it. Miss it already. Don’t you?

I mean.

And, in truth, it shouldn’t be so.

The Lightning ought to be still contending in this National Hockey League Playoffs. Should be playing Buffalo, the role Ottawa earned by playing tougher,
skating faster, having a better power playing unit, and surely better goaltending in the opening series the Lightning lost 4-1 to the Senators.

Tampa Bay woulda, coulda, shoulda beaten Ottawa in the first round of the present Stanley Cup - Ottawa, the companion new franchise created Dec. 6, 1990, at the NHL Palm Beach meetings alongside the Bolts.

But we are into genuine hockey withdrawal in this great place in which we live that got better with that sport being played regularly at the dandy St.
Petersburg Forum. The first opportunity losing series to Ottawa was not characteristic Tampa hockey of recent years, not by a slapshot.

The fans deserved better, the full-throated fans who accepted and learned this sport about which we knew so little when Hall of Famer Phil Esposito started the move
for hockey in Tampa Bay, got it, and said prophetically at that time:

“Come see us play and I got you. You’ll come back.”

Boy, was he right.

Now, in this withdrawal, heck, I miss his screaming in that high-pitched voice of “GOAL!!! ... GOAL!!! ... GOAL!!! …GOAL!!!” ....and about six more times.
...into his Lightning Radio Network mike…..I miss his ragging officials unmercifully. He had the right. Phil Esposito brought hockey to Tampa Bay. He would run the club for a while trying to make the genuine fans so many of us are now. And now, when he screams Lightning on his radio network mike, he is still on his crusade to make hockey a sunshine sport.

Espo is the father of professional hockey here. He refused to give up. So, Esposito didn’t like one bit being denied the opportunity this Lightning team could have given him by advancing in the Stanley Cup Playoffs instead falling on the Ottawa swords in the first round.

Hey, I am already missing the big man with the thundering Forum in-house who, after a Lightning score, waits a bit, and then shouts: “THE LIGHTNING GOAL .. .
. by…. . BRADDDD RICH……ARDS! ASSISTED………THE AASSISTS BY MAARTEEN ST. LOUISG……AAAAAAND……..VINNY LEY.……CAVAL……YEH!!!!!” Porter milks every word……every
opportunity. And, he’s a hard-working, nice man, too.

I am missing the national anthems before the game-USA and Canada when a Canadian team is in Forum. Good opportunity for showcasing. And, the people listen, and
they respond. Miss Hulk Hogan and his family. They love hockey. On the Bucs, Mike Alstott is a foremost patron.

Hey, wife Linda and I miss the entire pre-game show. Miss the noise-thought not necessarily banging on the head by a non-kin kid behind me. Bet a Canadian
dollar the Lightning misses that noise, that general appreciation given full-heartedly by a growing fan base, base that is as loud as any, as supportive as any.

But, we shouldn’t be in this need of a fix. Ought to be alive in the current Playoffs still. This club clearly wasn’t quite as gritty, as valorous, as fast,
as ready to play under new rules that favor speed and without goal-tending of the past. And those who fall into that under-achieving category know it. Have
already been told and will be told again, either as a lead-in to welcome-back-now-get-to-work, or into see-ya fellow.

And, when he wants to know why (after his Detroit Pistons continue their pursuits in that roundball sport, Mr. William Davidson will be told what Lightning management and Coach John Totorella plan to do to make his hockey team champs again. You know, we are talking about champs, not chumps. The Lightning has been to the mountain, the division mountain, and best of all, that high place that is home to the Lord Stanley’s Cup.

Right it is among us, but only temporarily. The Lightning who won it two years ago, abdicated but still are keepers the great sports prize until a winner, new champion emerges from the on-going Playoffs..

But, that is not the purpose of this lament. It is to declare the nostalgia that haunts when we drive by the dark Forum in Tampa, or the Lightning are not
available on TV with Bobby (The Chief) Taylor and Rick Peckham explaining what we are seeing, or hear those explanations from radiocasters Esposito and David
Miskin. It is to declare hockey has become a part of our sports family, a big part, and, until now, a winning part.

It is to admit we miss the Zamboni and the kids that get to ride it, the nutty little games in house folks put on the TV monitor when there is a break, the Ice
Ladies, your busy mascot -THUNDERBUG- the admired event staff, the occasional scuffle on the ice, telecaster Paul Kennedy’s good work on specials and those
responsible for the originality of the Forum sound stars who play The M*A*S*H theme when there is injury, and The Phantom of the Opera when penalties are
called. Fun stuff. Good stuff.

Miss it.

So you loused up, Lightning. You came to Tampa Bay with Medicine Man Phil Esposito as your scout. He and his new friends here, plus other owners, other
coaches, other investors, set it up neatly for this Davidson & Company, including a lineup led by President Ron Campbell that have all jumped into the
affairs this great place to become partners in the most progressive projects.

Yes, the Forum will get fixed, prettied up, more profitable, and one day there will be an elevator to the press level does not also carry the garbage, and with that I open it up to you there for a laugh and likely foul comment.

But, yes, you loused up this year. A tweak here and a tweak there, more work on the Power Play, improved goal-tending, you’d still be playing and defending that
Stanley Cup these days against Buffalo. However, those tweaks, and others, remain in order for the new season ahead. That’s what the ex-Lightning players
still living here tell me, as you will in the alumni years ahead. You’ll be surprised when you see how many of them have made this place home.

And when you do, in retirement you’ll miss hockey too in a circumstance like this in withdrawal. And you will also be beefing with us when the new goalie,
Nanook (The Ice Pole) Aardvark from Nome, lets one shot go through he should have stopped, slip through for an overtime loss to Nome, a new NHL expansion team.




The titles loom in my head many times at night

Posted Sep 27, 2012 by TBO.com

Updated Sep 30, 2012 at 01:48 AM

The thoughts always go back to what I would call the classic column, awash with details, colorful, giant subjects not remembered but huge in life and in the case of the Cowboy, the absolute founder of modern day wrestling.

These Tom McEwen writings are huge, hope you have a little time to read this one, a favorite of mine.

—Linda

———

Cowboy

March 13, 1980, Tampa


Crusty Cowboy Luttrall died this week, leaving as his legacy professional wrestling in Florida and the special pleasures it provides for millions who see it live in two dozen arenas or sit in on the weekly Championship Wrestling studio matches television makes available to about anyone interested the world over. My, what a phenomenon this entertainment has become, in so much because of the pioneering work of Luttrall.

Cowboy died 30-plus years after be came to Tampa from Chattanooga and made professional wrestling go, just before the money ran out.

He died nine years after be sold his business of promoting and match-making to his protégé, Eddie Graham, most of the last nine spent in a wheelchair after breaking his hip repeatedly. In fact, another fall and another hip break a few weeks ago were too much even for this nail-tough West Texan whose most famous personal match was against not a wrestler but a boxer and was a loss. It was a challenge of former heavyweight boxing champ Jack Dempsey, who beat Cowboy so completely Luttrall, then but 34, never recovered from some of the injuries.

Cowboy died after years of support for the University of Tampa football program when it wasn’t fashionable to do that, after original support of the Sheriff’s Boys Ranch, and after countless other charities. He died after countless hours of fishing the Gulf of Mexico, a passion of his, though be was as impatient with fishing as with most things, for Cowboy was easily angered and let you know it with words or a shaking fist. And be was about as sorry a captain of a boat as be was the driver of a car, but nobody could do it for him, be insisted.

Cowboy was ornery, kind, tough, generous, cantankerous, helpful.

He loved the family be leaves behind - good wife Margaret and daughter Belinda. He was self-made and be was proud of that. Boy, was be proud of that.

And, Cowboy was a genuine cowboy.

The Carrol Creek Ranch in Jacksboro, Texas, was his birth place and there for 50 cents a day he marked and branded yearlings.

At 16, Cowboy weighed 232 pounds.

At 16, be was in the fifth grade.

He played three years of high school football though those three years be spent, be said, in the fifth and sixth, then fifth again, grades.

At 17 be quit all that and turned to wresting.

He was good and just naturally a heavy.

That was in the mid-twenties when wrestling involved more muscle, perhaps more strength, and less acrobatics and show.

Straight wrestling took a long time. It took Cowboy 30 minutes once to break a hold Stranger Lewis got on him, but he did.

Then, in his time, Cowboy took on all the great wrestlers of those days, Lewis, Bronko Nagurski, Gus Sonneberg, Ed Don George, Lou Thesz and of course, George Zaharias, the Crying Greek from Cripple Creek, who lived in Tampa along with Cowboy, and with his wife, Babe Didrikson.

Zaharias was one of Cowboy’s last fishing buddies. But my, how they’d argue on the gulf, sometimes so furiously they’d come in early, still mouthing at each other as they left the docks, Cowboy driving that boat across the lines of protesting bridge fishermen shaking his fist back at them and shouting recommendations for them, and for Zaharias. Imagine those two big galoots, Cowboy and George Z., arguing around yon on a boat, or on a fishing pier?

Dangerous, that was what it was. Part of the time the arguing was about money. They were both tight, tight, tight. Of special historical note was that The Babe, that greatest of women athletes and George’s wife, and her “Greek God’’ of a husband she called him, built their dream home in north Tampa on a golf course that now is named for her. The first serious suggestion The Babe had the cancer that would kill her came when she fell from weakness on a back nine tee at a that old Forest Hills Golf and Country Club.

I knew them both well, and I visited with George on his death bed where his last personal deed for me was to counsel me on a slice I said was ruining my game. “Move your right hand over a big when you grip it,’’ he growled. It helped.

Years before, on Aug.1, 1940, Luttrall suckered Jack Dempsey, then 45 and refereeing wrestling, into a wrestler-boxer bout at Ponce De Leon Park in Atlanta. The match up drew national press. Newspapers carried headline stories over the country.

“I thought I could whip him,” Cowboy said much later. “But be got me with a quick shot to the chin. It was a left book. They said later I went down four times in that first round.

“In the second round, I hit Dempsey some, but after the big left in the first, all the zip bad gone out of my punches. He hit me again and I went down again.

“Finally,” Cowboy once related to me, “he hit me and knocked me clear out of the ring. I hit my head on a wooden box and knocked myself out. I didn’t wake up for three hours. People say I got knocked down 17 times in that second round. That must have been a record of some kind.”

Dempsey knocked one eyeball almost out of Cowboy’s head. Ringsiders said the eyeball hung half way out until the doctor arrived. But, the Cowboy’s vision was never the same.

“That cured me of boxing,” he said. “I had already had my nose broken several times, my hand broken all to pieces, all my teeth knocked out, my eyeball almost out and I had part of my face paralyzed by that Dempsey thing.”

Cowboy was hospitalized a long time, then went to Chattanooga where he promoted wrestling and put out a wrestling paper. He hired a kid he admired named Eddie Gossett to work for him. Eddie Gossett would in time become Eddie Graham, premier wrestler, and all but an adopted son to Luttrall. In 1949, Col. Homer Hesterly called Luttrall and suggested he come to Tampa to promote wrestling in the Tampa armory.

He did.

He brought $10,000 with him.

He bought out a promoter named Bill Slade for $300. His first card grossed $172.  After a year he was nearly broke but he loves to tell the story that, “in February, 1951, the last money I had was with me in the ticket office for change. That was to be our last try. At the last minute, the people began to show.”

The biggest crowd ever came, and Luttrall, the promoter, was on his way.

He would take over Jacksonville, next, and then expand to most Florida cities as a promoter, over the South, down into the Caribbean, and as a matchmaker as well. How could it not work. He had the wrestlers, he had the venues, he had it all. And anyone who tried to come into a town and compete, well, the competition didn’t last long.

Cowboy convinced Eddie Graham, a blond national wrestling hero at the time, to come to Tampa and wrestle out of this city. Others followed him. Yes, he promoted Gorgeous George, Red Berry, the works, all the big names, including the incomparable Dusty Rhodes.

Wrestling had hit, Cowboy’s formula worked. He’d stage studio matches, film them and put them on television for future markets. Then he’d move into that market. He was a genius who could barely write his name.

And Cowboy was in firm control of wrestling in Florida.

In time, he’d farm out the cities to his wrestling associates but the booking would be done in his headquarters, which for the longest time was in a small, two story building near the Tampa Armory, where he also filmed studio matches before 50 people who looked like 5,000 with tight shots, and the marvelous commentating of the late Gordon Solie, a master of the deadpan and the understatement.

Lung cancer, from smoking, killed the peerless Solie, whose style was widely copied. I did his eulogy, before a packed house that included so many big-time wrestlers, such as the most successful of them all, Hulk Hogan, also a Tampa kid. Championship Wrestling from Florida was its billing the television billing.

For example, before taking live wrestling to Puerto Rico, for example, Luttrall and Graham had Championship Wrestling on TV beamed there for months ahead. Now, Championship Wrestling is shown over much of the nation, indeed, the world, and virtually all of the taping is for years was done on Albany Street in the Sportatorium Luttrall and Graham built in the early Sixties.

Yet, despite his brief education, Luttrall was an astute businessman.

He could count a house at a glance. He demanded his wrestlers perform to their fullest and he demanded they show up when scheduled. And know this, would-be competition was run out of town, any town.

He could be a hard man, but “he’d give you his shirt off his back,” said his widow. “He did a lot for a lot of people,” she said. “He did a lot for his wrestling and the people who enjoy it.’’ He was the founder of modern wrestling that is so popular the world over.

“As a man, he didn’t miss much in his life,” in his 73 years, said his widow.

“He was quite a guy, and whatever he did and however he may have done it, Cowboy always meant well, I’m sure.”

From that great gamble by this man who could not read nor write began the phenomenon that would become professional wrestling, that would become an international “sport” its later promoters who would spawn the World Wrestling Federation of Hulk Hogan that was accepted later “as entertainment,” and so advertised, a scillion dollar operation surely never visualized by The Cowboy and his disciples in Tampa.




End of a Tampa era and a reunion in Heaven

Posted Aug 27, 2012 by TBO.com

Updated Aug 28, 2012 at 10:16 PM

On Aug. 16, Polly Pepin, wife of Art Pepin, died, surrounded by her family. She had a wonderful life and contributed so much to the Tampa scene and its growth in the sports world.

She and Art were a team who were so important to Tampa in the past years.

Polly joined Art, who died a few years ago, in Heaven, ending an era of sports and entertainment support not equaled by any others and so valuable to Tampa.

Tom and I were very close friends with both Polly and Art, travleled with them, went to all of their sports gatherings and knew them well. Tom wrote a book about Art privately, an excellent biography detailing the Pepin lives and the problems Art had with his big generous heart that gave out and he had to have a transplant.

The book was suggested by his family, particularly Tom, his oldest son, and is called “Pep”, the fun, full life of a man with heart. It was dedicated to Polly Virginia Pepin, who kept the home fires burning, he said.

The book is wonderful and I can say without reserve that the Pepins were unequaled as a charming helpful pair who entertained all visitors to Tampa. Art was a master storyteller, quoting poetry and songs, but so was Polly. Few women can tell the Irish stories and jokes she knew during their many social events better and we will all miss her.

—Linda McEwen




A glorious and sad time in the English Channel

Posted Aug 27, 2012 by TBO.com

Updated Aug 28, 2012 at 10:15 PM

Another water sport was taking place in the United Kingdom at the same time as the Olympics 2012 were going on. This one was far more dangerous and took a great deal of courage and fortitude. We had two of our own from Tampa in this endeavor and admire them both for their spirit and discipline. They were Bart Cobb and Arnie Bellini, who attempted, among others from many parts of the world, to swim the English Channel, the historic strip of water between England and France.

Bart and Arnie were seen for many months swimming around Davis Island, and Harbour Island, in all weather and in the winter, preparing for this feat. They also went up to Provincetown, Mass., to swim in the big, cold waters there to sharpen up their endurance for July. 

It seemed almost poetic that these brave swimmers were out in the rough waters of the Channel while the Olympic swimmers were battling for the gold. This is a story that Tom, Scotch/English that he was, would have loved to write about. He had covered many of these events and we had spent much time in these areas.

The English Channel is a very busy commercial route, hosting some 600 vessels per day. The Channel Swimming & Piloting Federation oversees all of the swim challenges and keeps watch over the swimmers, the weather, and medical needs during the entire time, which was days because of letting the swimmers go in the best weather available, even if they had to wait a day or two. The swimmers used the route between Shakespeare Beach, Dover, to Cap Gris Nez in France with a distance of approximately 21 miles.

In addition to the challenging waters, hypothermia is a real threat. With water showing a 59 degrees F. to 64/65 degrees F., it is not warm, and the swimming times in the water can last many hours up to 12 and more due to the currents also to fight in addition to the cold.

The first recorded history of a cross-channel swim was in 1875 by Mathew Webb from Dover to Calais in 21 hours and 45 minutes, achieved on his second attempt on August 25. Many try now, and our men did their best. Bart was pulled out with hypothermia and Arnie lasted 13 and 1/2 hours, but could not make it over the currents to land. Both have vowed to return next summer.

A very sad note was sent to the swimmers of the loss of popular Paraic Casey from County Cork who was 1.5 km from Calais when he became ill and despite efforts to save him, died in the hospital in France. Paraic was swimming to raise funds for the Society of St. Vincent de Paul and Marymount Hospice in Cork. Such a kind man, he will be missed in his hometown.

Father Tom Hayes said of Paraic at his funeral, “It is not how long we live. It is what we do with the time we have. Paraic had a deep appreciation of that as he undertook his diligent extraordinary preparation for his swim.”

Riana, his wife, has a nice word to sum up how he approached it. She said he had his passion and noted that he had said in his recent blog that, “nothing great was easy.”

Father Hall continued, “I have thought a lot about Paraic this week. I have also thought about what’s important in life - family and friends.”

And as Paraic said to the above “It’s what we do with the time we have, so I am going to Dover tomorrow to swim the English Channel.”

—Linda McEwen




The easy rider

Posted Aug 6, 2012 by Tom McEwen

Updated Aug 7, 2012 at 04:00 PM

Sometimes you just drift back and remember different kinds of writing that Tom did, so sweet and so longing for his good friend in the same business that Tom was, The Tampa Tribune, and the times they had and how much they enjoyed their friendship.

It happened one morning early as the story will tell, Tom got the call that his good friend, Bob Hudson, had a heart attack the night before while playing pirate in the Gasparilla Night Parade, one of his favorite times. This eulogy he had and wanted to do, but was so distraught that he needed my help. He was trying to remember the name of the song and when we did, he did not know all of the words. I looked all over the house and could not find “My Buddy” in our songbooks, so I called Jack Golly, an old friend who had an excellent group and played professionally at everything.

Jack came through and dictated the words to me and Tom, through tears, wrote his eulogy.

—Linda


The Easy Rider

February 15, 1975

Bob Hudson was handsome, successful, 48 and a boss loved by those who worked for and with him, from his reporting days to his Executive Editorship of The Tampa Tribune. When a massive heart attack struck him he was participating in the Gasparilla Night Parade in Tampa. No one who knew him was not affected by the loss, and does not miss him still. One of the last earthly deeds of Bob Hudson was to pay respects to a fallen athlete and mutual friend, Bobby Forbes.
Bob Hudson and I attended the Bobby Forbes funeral together in Clearwater Thursday morning, driving over in my car.

On the way over, Bob talked of the great growth of the area, of The Tribune’s responsi­bilities to its readers, and how good it was to be alive. Stomach disorders had plagued him for a couple of years, and the very night before, I would learn later, Bob Hudson had awakened with chest and arm pains, that went away with the dawn, and his regard of them.

At the Forbes funeral, we stood in the rear of the Moss Chapel and listened to the Rev. J.F. McHendry describe the former football, baseball and softball star as ‘The Happy Warrior,’ who lived 100 years’ worth in 48, and who had the great consolation of never having ‘to grow old.’

How sad would be the irony of that observation later that evening.

“You know,” said Bob Hudson, on the return ride in the glorious sunshine, over Courtney Campbell Causeway, “a fellow ought to be playing golf today. Or fishing. Not working, not inside anywhere.

“I haven’t played golf since November 13. And I can’t remember when I last fished. “But, thinking of Bobby Forbes - who I played against, you know, when I was at St. Pete High - and seeing you having lunch with Lou Piniella yesterday, well, it must be a great feeling, a great reward and a great life to make it in the bigtime in sports. I admire those people so.

“And Cunnie (he called me that), you know you wrote that piece after Forbes died, the one the people at the funeral were talking about.

“Well, you know part of our job is to praise people who have achieved like Forbes. It’s a responsibility and a privilege too, for you to be in the position to do that, to say good things about a man has done good things,’’ I replied. Hudson was my boss, the executive editor, and a longtime friend.

“Cunnie, don’t ever stop doing that,” said Bob Hudson minutes before he let me out at the Hawaiian Village and drove may car to downtown Tampa.

It did not occur to me that eulogy for Bobby Forbes as heard by Bob Hudson applied also to Bob Hudson.

I was never to see Bob Hudson alive again.

I was never to see my best friend, my boss, alive again.

I was never to see my buddy alive again.

This marvelous man, this jock, this award-winner, former Tribune sports editor, this counsel whose advice convinced me to come to Tampa from the St. Petersburg Times in 1958.

This confidante, this best man at my wedding to Linda, this warm puppy, this rock of a man, the 49-year-old executive editor of The Tribune-Times was going to have his giant but tender heart stop dead still less than nine hours later, when he was at last ­having some fun himself.

So I am but following the last instruction of my boss and publicly paying tribute to Bob Hudson.

We will all miss this Easy Rider of newspapering more than we now realize.

He was a man apart. He was an athlete apart.

His pleasures on this earth were few. There wasn’t enough time - at least he never took time - for that.

He adored smoking cigarettes, loved to hitch his pants up like Arnold Palmer, loved playing golf, and was good at it, loved to watch boxing, going to The Masters and big time sports events, his wife Marty and his good son, Robbie, who Hudson so wanted to become a successful lawyer and man, and was then readying for that as a top student at Florida.

He was a considerate husband, boss and dad. He fought for his associates, pushed for his buddies, like Paul Hogan, to advance. He led a charge

that moved good friend and protégé, Paul Hogan, to succeed him as managing editor of The Tribune. He was loyal to his co-workers, yet, he enjoyed aggravating them, and while his needle was quick, it was well-intended, it was purposeful, and it was short. He cared about what they were doing and he cared about them.

He carried his head high and at times swaggered, but it was a veneer. He was a softie and his humility was so often evidenced by his genuine delight when a friend, an employee, a competitor excelled by his own will and ability, even at his expense. At diplomacy, he was peerless, with his smooth style.

He made women feel pretty because he always told them they were. He made men feel proud. Children were comfortable around him, cats rubbed on him, dogs sought the pat of his hand.

He was, said Pat Levy, a “dear man.”

He was. He was not just a dear man. He was a dear and he was a man.

The masculinity showed quickly. Bob Hudson was a super athlete at St. Petersburg High. He was an All-State football and basketball player there, a quick guard and good shooter on the court, a fast, aggressive runner in shoulder pads.

He was a star during the turn of the 40s, the glory years days of St. Pete High football. I mean he was good. Against tough Hillsborough High in 1941, in the showdown game of the Big Ten Conference championships, he was heroic, and when the score was 7-6, Hillsborough leading but St. Pete lining up for the game-tying point, they gave the ball to Bob Hudson to muscle over the middle. He broke his leg trying, coming up just short. Marcelino Huerta and Steve Sinardi hit him and to his last day, Hudson chastised Huerta publicly, but in mock anger, for ruining his career.

His scholarship was to Georgia, and he liked to tell how after being all-everything, and courted by all the schools, including all the Georgia staff, which dined him nightly before he signed, how on arrival at Athens, Ga., on the train with big smile, thrust-out chest and proud stride, the first question put to him by the chief recruiter was:

“Let’s see, what’s your name?”

The Marines followed and that helped the confident aire about him. He was proud of the Marines and of the strut and of the fact that you recognized it and its origin.

He was a sports writer at the St. Pete Times before coming to the Tampa Tribune sports department. I took his place on the St. Pete Times and would wind up taking his chair as the Tribune sports editor when he moved up to that, then on to state, managing editor and finally, the pinnacle he enjoyed, executive editor. He preferred the in-charge role. Notably, the last man to sit in the chair of executive editor, and the two papers, The Tampa Times and Tampa Tribune, was Jim Couey, an activist too who fell dead in the Beirut airport while also in his prime.

Bob Hudson himself came up through the newspaper ranks, and reached the acme he sought, and he deserved that which he attained. His superiors, his subordinates agree unani­mously on that. The readers had no better friend in the company and sports had no better friend. Sports was his first love, which never diminished. Florida Gator games became a must with him once Robbie was a student there, though he had covered many as a writer.

As a writer, he was understanding, incisive, lucid, fast, and that was his main bag. More lately, it was executing and he was a candid and fair man in that role. He was a master of friendly persuasion.

An additional tragedy of his death to Bob Hudson was that he put off too long his own pursuits of personal pleasure—the trip to Europe, to the Orient, a Palma Ceia Golf Club membership.

I have wept as I have written this.

It has taken me much longer than Bob Hudson would have allotted me. But if a man can love a man beyond his family circle, I loved this man Bob Hudson and I know he loved me. I am what I am in no small part whatever I am that is decent, and may yet be or achieve, because of Bob Hudson. Yes, he was my mentor. It is my prayer that those of us involved with him on earth, touched and taught him, will not slacken.

But, it is my foremost prayer that where ever it is that Bob Hudson go - and I think I know that destination—that he’ll have more time for good times.

There is consolation that, as the preacher said, this handsome, courtly man will not grow old before our eyes but be forever at his youthful pinnacle in our memories of him.

There is consolation too that he died on parade as a Gasparilla crew pirate and on the streets of the city he loved so, with his head high, with his friends alongside, with a smile on his face, happy and we all thought, in the pink.
He was in the midst of a sentence and a smile, when that great heart exploded, good friend Bill Weber said, and though colleagues Stewart Bryan and Richard Pittman, and scores of doctors used all their worldly ways, another Happy Warrior was gone.

So ride on, Easy Rider, ride on, to the good times.

God Bless Us without you.

God Bless You, my buddy.
Nights are long since you went away.

I think about you all through the day.

My buddy.

My buddy. Nobody quite so true ­

Miss your voice, the touch of your hand.

Just long to know you understand.

My buddy.

My buddy.

Your buddy misses you.