Lincoln Hudson didn't walk on the moon, but he helped make it possible for the astronauts who did.
Hudson led teams of engineers at Honeywell who designed the guidance and control systems for the spacecraft used in the Apollo missions in the 1960s, including the Apollo 11 flight that made Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin the first men to walk on the moon. Hudson had to get the astronauts home safely, too.
"Those were not easy things to do," said Hudson's son, Doug, of New Hope. Given that computing power was still raw and transistors were still a relatively new innovation, "They had to be creative," he said.
Hudson, who was known as "Linc," was diagnosed with advanced liver and bladder cancer earlier this year and died Oct. 15 at Covenant Living, a facility for seniors in Golden Valley. He was 96.
Born in Detroit, Hudson grew up in South Bend, Ind. He enrolled at the University of Southern California after high school but joined the U.S. Army Air Corps after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor.
Hudson's main responsibility was doing maintenance on aircraft, his son said. But in April 1945, while serving with the 487th Bomb Group in Lavenham, England, Hudson was on a bombing mission over Germany when his plane was shot down. He parachuted out but was captured, and he spent the rest of World War II in a POW camp.
After the war, Hudson returned to the United States and earned bachelor's and master's degrees in electrical engineering from Purdue University and Yale University, respectively. Engineering was "something he took to naturally," Doug Hudson said.
Lincoln Hudson arrived in Minnesota in the early 1950s and worked for Honeywell for 35 years. He "was heavily into space," his son said, attending several of the Apollo launches and meeting several astronauts.
Later in his career, Hudson moved to Glasgow, Scotland, and worked for four years as engineering director for Honeywell in the United Kingdom.
Though proud of his contributions at Honeywell, Hudson was more proud of the impact he had on his co-workers, his son said: "They talked about how great of a boss he was and how much they learned from him."
After retirement, Hudson traveled Minnesota as a volunteer to mentor small business owners and entrepreneurs through the nonprofit organization SCORE. He was named the 2011 Minnesota Veteran Small Business Champion of the Year for the U.S. Small Business Administration's Minnesota District Office, and helped secure money needed to build the Northwest YMCA in New Hope, his son said.
After moving into Covenant Living, Hudson continued his passion for learning through reading and started a book club for residents. In the weeks before his death, he gave residents a presentation on the election, instructing them on how to fill out ballots and who the candidates were, his son said.
Hudson founded the Four Score and Ten club, a monthly social gathering for residents 90 and older, and started a wine-tasting group. He always had a good joke to tell, his son said.
"He always had something going on," Doug Hudson said. "He really blossomed in the last 15 to 20 years of his life."
Besides his son, Hudson is survived by two daughters, Janet Ammerman of Chevy Chase, Md., and Carol Galloway of Louisburg, Kan.; a stepson, T. Peter Hatori of Fargo; a stepdaughter, Kameo Calvario of Brooklyn Park; and 12 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
Services have been held.