Epilogue: She read everything - magazines, thrillers, people

Virginia Drew Hudgins put her library card to use again and again.
Virginia Drew Hudgins in an undated picture. Family phot
Virginia Drew Hudgins in an undated picture. Family phot
Published Jan. 2, 2019

Every two weeks, on hair day, Virginia Drew Hudgins made a trip to the library. After her hair was set, of course. Never before.

At the Jan Platt Library on South Manhattan Avenue in Tampa, she'd check out seven or eight books, then repeat the cycle two weeks later. Hudgins, who died Sept. 20, read everything - novels, Reader's Digest, People, Vanity Fair, Michael Connelly, Dick Francis, the Bible.

In her 88 years, she never became a great collector of books. Virginia had no use for them once she reached that last page.

She collected, instead, small details - the names of people she and her husband, George, met at his conventions, the accomplishments of her children's friends as they grew up, the location of the church secretary's vacation, the stories of the nurses who treated her when the cancer she fought years ago returned to attack her lungs.

Throughout her life, Virginia kept the Georgia lilt that set in growing up in Waynesboro. During the Depression, her father was a section foreman for the Central Georgia Railroad. Her daddy often brought home things that came through on the passenger train, including, said Virginia's son Drew Hudgins, books.

"I realize now that I got a book award in first grade probably because I saw my mom reading books," said Jill Randall, Virginia's daughter.

Jill read the most books in her class at Seaborn Day School.

When 12-year-old Drew got bit by a black widow spider while on an adventure with the Boy Scouts, his mother sat with him at Tampa General for three long days and read to him from John Kennedy's Profiles in Courage.

In the last year and a half of her life, when Virginia couldn't make it to the library anymore, Jill became her mother's librarian. She searched thrift stores for the thrillers her mother loved.

Most days, after finishing her daily tasks, Virginia settled into a chair in her bedroom, clicked on the standing lamp at her left side and started to read.

"She was content," her daughter said, "to be in a book."

Senior news researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report. Want to know more about Virginia? Head over to Instagram and @werememberthem and see one way her family will remember her. Know someone who has recently died whom we should write about? Send suggestions to Kristen Hare at