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Tue, 12.22.1914

William A. Hudnall, Historian born

William A. Hudnall

*William A. Hudnall was born on this date in 1914.  He was a Black businessman and historian.

From Reedville, Virginia, he was the oldest of four sons born to Walter and Lelia Smith Hudnall. He graduated from the historic Julius Rosenwald High School, Reedville, Virginia. In 1932, he began working in Baltimore, Maryland.

On January 15, 1938, he and Bessie Basey were married with a love that lasted 79 years. His face and eyes would light up at the mention of her name. Though they had no children, they lovingly embraced all youngsters who crossed their paths. Later they moved to New York, where he opened Hudnall's Grocery. After operating a successful business for many years, they sold it and returned to Ophelia, Virginia, in the 1960s.

Reuniting with his home Church, Shiloh Baptist, he became a Deacon in 1961. He served as Chairman of the Deacons Ministry from 1972 to 1995. Hudnall was instrumental in organizing what became the Northern Neck Deacons Union. He served them as Chairman for 19 years and as their instructor for several years. An experienced waterman, he was hired by the Virginia Marine Resources Commission (VMRC) in 1972 as a mate and then promoted to Captain of a VMRC Patrol. Deacon Hudnall was the first Black to hold both positions.

In 1991, he organized the Northern Neck Chantey Singers at the request of the Greater Reedville Association and the Association's Museum Committee. The singers preserved the history of Black work songs of the 18th and 19th centuries. He was a charter member of the Northumberland County Planning Commission and was in his 26th year when he ran for the Northumberland County Board of Supervisors and won the seat for 12 years. He was the first African American to serve on the Board and the only one to serve as Chairman of the Board of Supervisors. On November 10, 2001, a portrait of him was unveiled at Shiloh Baptist Church and now graces the wall of the Supervisors Board Room.

He held many governor appointments, such as the Potomac River Basin Committee, Local Government Advisory Council, and the Virginia Marine Resources Commission. William A. Hudnall died on February 22, 2017. Interment services were held at the church cemetery, where his honorary pallbearers were The Deacons of Shiloh Baptist Church, The Northern Neck Deacons Union, and The Chantey Singers. His active pallbearers and floral bearers were friends of the family.

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