Rice mourns Hank Hudspeth: Alumnus, instructor, philanthropist

Chalmers M. “Hank” Hudspeth

Hank Hudspeth ’40 was an emeritus of the Rice Board of Trustees.

Chalmers M. “Hank” Hudspeth, who dedicated more than 80 years of his life to Rice University as everything from a devoted student and pioneering instructor to a generous patron and emeritus trustee, died July 30, just three months shy of his 100th birthday.

From the moment he filled out his permanent information record on Sept. 17, 1937, Rice became more to Hudspeth than just a place to finish an education. It became a huge part of his life and Hudspeth became a huge part of Rice.

Generations of Rice students took government and political science classes from Hudspeth, but his position as an instructor was only one of the myriad roles he served at the university. Together with his late wife Demaris De Lange Hudspeth ’42 – who he met while both of them studied as undergraduates — the Hudspeths were two of Rice’s most dedicated philanthropic supporters.

Hank Hudspeth form“His devotion to Rice was legendary and his impact on the institution proved to be wide and deep,” said Rice Centennial Historian Melissa Kean. “He was indefatigable and somehow always cheerful in our service.”

Hudspeth, a Texas native, actually began his academic career at North Texas Agricultural College. He transferred to Rice Institute, as it was known then, and graduated in 1940.

The newly minted graduate served four years as a cryptography officer in the U.S. Navy during World War II. After the war, he finished his law degree at the University of Texas and returned to Houston to practice at the firm now known as De Lange, Hudspeth, McConnell & Tibbets LLP.

Demaris and Hank Hudspeth

Demaris and Hank Hudspeth

Hudspeth found time to teach American government and law-related courses at Rice for more than 45 years, during which he helped create the Department of Political Science. He was elected an alumni governor in 1980 and was appointed a trustee in 1982. While serving on the board, he chaired the Academic Affairs Committee and served on the Building and Grounds and Audit committees.

Hudspeth also served as president of the Association of Rice Alumni, chaired the Founder’s Club for the Annual Fund and was on the of the advisory boards for the Glasscock School, the Shepherd Society and the Center for Education. The De Lange Conference, which brings experts from around the world to campus for scholarly presentations on timely topics, is supported by an endowment given by the Hudspeths.

Hank Hudspeth

Hank Hudspeth

In 1997, the Board of Trustees established the C.M. and Demaris Hudspeth Lectureship in Political Economy in recognition of the couple’s 50 years of distinguished service to the university. An endowed award for student life and clubs was also named in their honor in 1999 by then-President Malcolm Gillis. In 2009, the couple helped fund the Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership at Rice’s Glasscock School of Continuing Studies.

An associate of Wiess College, Hudspeth was a dedicated fundraiser for a plethora of cultural and academic projects at Rice, Kean said.

“If you hold one of the Autrey Chairs, you can thank Hank Hudspeth,” Kean said. “He was one of the prime movers behind the Woodson’s acquisition of the magnificent Julian Huxley Collection.”

Outside of Rice, Hudspeth was active in many professional organizations. He was a former director and vice president of the State Bar of Texas and the former chair of its Real Estate, Probate and Trust Section.

He is survived by three children, four grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

A memorial service is planned for Oct. 12 at Rice’s Glasscock School of Continuing Studies.




About Arie Passwaters

Arie Wilson Passwaters is editor of Rice News.