Texas Whataburger pays tribute to World War II vet, best customer after his passing

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TYLER, Texas (Jan. 28, 2016) – The kind gesture from a Texas Whataburger meant so much to a family mourning the loss of a loved one.

Hudson Collins ate at the Whatburger on Loop 323 in Tyler, Texas, every morning for the past 15 years, according to his grandson, Chris Collins. Hudson also ate dinner there a few times a week.

You could say the staff knew him very well—so well, in fact, that the restaurant set up a table with a table cloth and balloons for him on Oct. 3, 2015, as the World War II veteran and his family celebrated his 94th birthday. So beloved was Collins that Whataburger stopped accepting money from him at breakfast, saying his food would be on the house as long as he ate there.

Hudson served in the Army Air Corps during World War II and returned to work on plane radios after an honorable discharge on medical grounds in 1943. He passed away at the age of 94 on Jan. 22, 2016, and family members noticed something incredible when they arrived for lunch after his funeral.

The Whataburger put his name on the marquee.

“RIP Mr. Hudson,” the sign read in bold, black letters. The family said the small gesture meant so much to them.

Hudson was well known in East Texas. After the war, he became the first chief engineer of KLTV. The station called him a “pioneer of local television in East Texas” while reporting his passing.

He married Avinell Rose in 1948. They were married for 54 years, according to family members. The couple lived at a radio station at first, but Hudson received a call in the middle of the night one day. On the other end of the line was a woman who said she’d bought the radio station and was bringing in a new engineer.

The woman, Lucille Buford, called back later that night. Since Hudson had been so nice during the call, she decided to keep him. A few years later, she decided to build a TV station—the first in East Texas. Buford put Hudson in charge of it. Thus, KLTV was born. The station went on the air in 1954.

Hudson’s interests included racing, amateur radio, camping, fishing, cards and dominos, according to his family.

He is survived by his loving family including sons, Hal Collins and wife Brenda of Arlington and Carl Collins and wife Valerie of Tyler; grandchildren, Chris Collins of Tyler, Paige Jones and husband Jonathan of Bullard and Daedra Burchfield and husband Greg of Flower Mound; great-grandchildren, Lexi, Cayley, Mason and Maggye, Hudsons’ sister, Buelah Mae Fordham of Brenham and niece, Mary Sue Longhoffer and husband Eddie of Brenham.

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