Family members and friends of Glendale resident Holman "Ace" Hudson this week were left trying to make sense of the Iraq war veteran's sudden death. Ace Hudson died in his sleep on Jan. 8 following a quiet night at home with his wife of seven months, Lindsey Mancuso Hudson. He was 30.
Results from an autopsy to determine the cause of death are pending.
"He is a larger-than-life kind of guy, and he makes friends everywhere he goes," said his sister Maura Hudson, 40. "I don't have any words to describe how wrong this is."
The third child and only son of retired Los Angeles County Deputy Dist. Atty. Dirk Hudson and Sharon Hudson, Ace Hudson was raised in the San Gabriel Valley, graduating from Arcadia High School in 1998. Shortly thereafter, he enlisted in the Army, and was among the first American troops to enter Baghdad in 2003.
Assigned to an advanced team that was tasked with tracking down Saddam Hussein, Ace Hudson garnered numerous honors, including the National Defense Service Medal, the War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal and the Army Achievement Medal. He was promoted to sergeant before being honorably discharged in 2004.
After earning a business degree at Cal State Los Angeles, Ace Hudson began a career in acquisitions and procurement, first on a contract basis at Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Cañada Flintridge, and then as the co-founder and president of his own firm, Source Integrations. And in September, he was hired by Northrop Grumman as a contract administrator.
Friend, business partner and former roommate Eric Stone recalled their sporadic decision to buy a pool table for their residence. They worked into the night trying to assemble it, eventually agreeing to pick it up again in the morning. Stone headed to bed, only to be woken up at 3 a.m. for a game of pool.
"The game went well, but we never quite figured out what the extra pieces were for," Stone said. "The boy was determined."
Ace Hudson and his future wife Lindsey were introduced by his older sister, Deirdre Hudson-Wittman, and her close friend, Kristy Jolstead. They communicated via e-mail before meeting for their first date in Pasadena. The couple moved to Glendale in October 2008.
"I could talk to him about anything," said Lindsey Mancuso Hudson, 27. "He had a complete zest for life. He was so open and compassionate and loving."
They married in July, and were looking forward to having children.
"I have rarely seen him happier," said Hudson-Wittman, 36.
Family members remembered Ace Hudson as a natural caregiver who was protective of his sisters and devoted to his niece and nephew. He established a fund for his 3-year-old niece Miranda to pay for costs related to her diabetes that weren't covered by her health insurance, Maura Hudson said.
He also doted on his parents, who continue to live in Arcadia, and was especially close to his father. He frequently met Dirk Hudson for breakfast, Maura Hudson said. Ace Hudson always picked up the tab, insisting that his dad contribute his portion of the bill to the fund for Miranda.
"He is the kind of person who was very inclusive," Hudson-Wittman said. "He learned how to turn adversity and poor circumstances into a happier situation. He was very determined to keep his family and friends happy."
Maura Hudson saw her brother just a few days before his death at a baptismal class for her 10-month-old son, Quinn. He was to be the godfather.
"We were in a very dimly lit church with a bunch of other people, and the only way the church was lit up was by his smile," Maura Hudson said. "It was just blinding."
Her husband was in good physical health, Lindsey Mancuso Hudson said, although he did take medication for post-traumatic stress disorder. He had been unusually tired the week before his death, but she said they attributed it to jet lag following a recent trip abroad.
A funeral service has been scheduled for Jan. 22 at Holy Angeles Catholic Church in Arcadia.