*The latest installment in the Ole Miss Retirees features is former purchasing department buyer, Dallie Hudgins. The organization’s mission is to enable all of the university’s faculty and staff retirees to maintain and promote a close association with the university. It is the goal of the Ole Miss Faculty/Staff Retirees Association to maintain communication by providing opportunities to attend and participate in events and presentations.
Dallie always has a smile and is always friendly. Her quiet demeanor is unexpected given the years working in Purchasing, which was demanding. Her responsibilities required that she follow the many detailed guidelines for purchases with state monies and was responsible for sound fiscal decisions and accountability. Here is her Ole Miss story:
Brown: Where did you grow up? Talk about your childhood. Where did you go to school?
Hudgins: I have lived in Oxford all my life. My parents were Richard and Mattie Avent. My dad had always lived in Lafayette County and my mother was originally from Nettleton, Mississippi. My dad was Justice of the Peace (now called Justice Court Judge) for several terms. Otherwise, he was a car salesman. He was a veteran who served in the Navy during WWII. My dad passed away in 1995.
I started the first grade in Oxford Grammar School which was where the Federal Building is now located. My house was about where Belk Drive is just below the old hospital. At that time, that was considered “country” as it was outside the city limits. Along with several friends in that area, we rode our bicycles to the campus every day in the summer to the swimming pool. Of course, that pool is no longer there. It was great growing up in small town Oxford.
I went to University High School which was on campus. We had student teachers from Ole Miss in most of our classes. Ole Miss has always been a part of my life. My mother was the manager of the University Bookstore which, at that time, was a private entity. The bookstore was in the Student Union Building. After the bookstore was purchased by the University, she worked at Carl Coers Clothing Store on campus until it closed and she retired. She loved working with the students. My mother passed away in 2004.
Brown: Tell us how/when your Ole Miss “story” began? Who hired you? How long did you work at Ole Miss?
Hudgins: My first job at Ole Miss was with the Printing Department when I was in high school. I walked around and around a table assembling different things. I believe I was making 35 cents an hour. They would call when there was something to do. Next, I worked in the Film Library in the School of Education. My career job started in the Purchasing Department in December 1958. Harold Haney was Director of Purchasing and hired me. I worked for The University for 34 years.
Brown: What position did you hold? What were your job responsibilities?
Hudgins: I began working in the Purchasing Department as an order typist. There were 6 positions in the office at that time; a director with a secretary, an assistant director with a secretary, and an order typist (no computers). I moved to the secretary to the assistant director and then to the secretary to the director. Mr. Haney became the Director of Auxiliary Enterprises and I was out of Purchasing for a few years. When he retired, I was hired by Roger Lyles, Director of Purchasing, as a Buyer.
Brown: What was your “best” and “worst” day at work and why?
Hudgins: Most all days were good. Purchasing was a very busy office. There were very few days you had to look for something to do. I think getting to know the employees of Ole Miss was what I enjoyed most about my job. Every department bought equipment and supplies and I was able to work with just about everyone on campus. The people were all great! The worse day was when a truckload of poinsettias arrived on campus in July. I had failed to indicate a delivery date on the order. The company was very cooperative and took them back and reshipped in December. It probably cost the University some shipping charges. June 30 was always a hard day since every department wanted to be sure they spent their entire budget for the fiscal year. That was the busiest day of the year!
Brown: What do you consider your greatest accomplishment?
Hudgins: I have two wonderful sons, two fantastic daughters-in-law, seven amazing grandchildren, three precious great-grandchildren, a great stepfamily, a loving church family, lots of friends, and a dog. What more could anyone want?
Brown: What became your new routine after you retired from work? Do you have hobbies?
Hudgins: I thought I would enjoy staying home but that was not for me. Most of my retirement years from Ole Miss have been spent working. I have worked either part time or full time since I retired in 1992. Sometimes they were “real” jobs and sometimes it was volunteering.
Brown: What’s the best and worst thing about getting older?
Hudgins: My husband and I traveled a lot and I certainly enjoyed that. I lost Olon who, also, was an Ole Miss retiree, seven years ago so I don’t do much traveling. I really miss that as it was something we both loved. I go on a girls’ trip occasionally and really enjoy that.
I read a lot and work three days a week at my church. I’ve never really been an animal lover but my children thought I needed a dog. A dog named “Bubba” came into my life six years ago. “Bubba” and I get along just fine. Getting older has not been too bad… so far!
Brown: What is something you think everyone should do at least once in their lives?
Hudgins: I think everyone should make a trip out West. Yellowstone is one of my favorite places. Montana, Wyoming, and Utah are the most beautiful places. I have been in every state in the United States, including Hawaii and Alaska, but out West is the part I love to visit. I wish everyone had the opportunity to see that part of the country.
Brown: What skill would you like to master?
Hudgins: I really would like to be efficient on the computer. I know a little bit (how to turn it on and off) but I wish I could use it like a pro.
Brown: What’s something you like to do the old-fashioned way?
Hudgins: Well, there’s not much cooking at my house. My children would say that there is none! When I do cook, it is usually soul food. I cook like my Mama.
Brown: Tell us something about yourself that most people don’t know.
Hudgins: My favorite thing to do when I was young was to roller skate. You could find me at the skating rink on Friday night, Saturday night, and Sunday afternoon. The last time that I skated was at my grandson’s birthday party about 10 years ago. I was still pretty good but was very careful. I haven’t had the courage to try it since that time.
Brown: What do you want to be remembered for?
Hudgins: Just being a friend.
Bonnie Brown is a retired staff member of the University of Mississippi. She most recently served as Mentoring Coordinator for the Ole Miss Women’s Council for Philanthropy.
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