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Originally published Thursday, August 11, 2011 at 5:39 PM

Jackie Hudson, nun and activist for nuclear disarmament, 76

Jackie Hudson, nun and activist for nuclear disarmament, dies at 76.

Seattle Times staff reporter

A year ago, Jackie Hudson, a Dominican nun based in Kitsap County, crawled under a barbed-wire fence in Oak Ridge, Tenn., to protest the lab that produced the material for nuclear bombs.

She was found guilty and was awaiting her sentence.

It was part of her life mission to support nuclear disarmament.

Sister Hudson died Aug. 3 of multiple myeloma at Harrison Medical Center in Bremerton. She was 76.

"At least she got to die among family and friends," said Leonard Eiger, a longtime friend and peace activist. "She had a long, full and truly remarkable life. Jackie Hudson helped keep me going in this long struggle."

Longtime friend Sue Ablao, who has demonstrated with Sister Hudson against nuclear proliferation, said social justice was her life's work.

The two met in Michigan when Ablao walked into the Institute for Global Education in Grand Rapids, where Sister Hudson was program director. When asked what she could do, Sister Hudson said she had three buses heading to Washington, D.C., for a protest and Ablao was hooked.

In the early 1990s, the two decided to move to Washington state, where Ablao's family lived, and became caretakers at the Poulsbo-based Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action, which organizes protests supporting nuclear disarmament.

Sister Hudson was raised in Saginaw, Mich., and joined the Dominican order in 1952. She was educated in music and religious education at VanderCook College of Music in Chicago and went on to teach music for 29 years, mostly in junior-high schools.

"I thought that made her a saint," said Ablao. She said Sister Hudson played instruments and sang in a group with other Dominican nuns.

After Sister Hudson retired from teaching, she started studying the dangers of nuclear weapons and nuclear radiation and joined a Michigan faith-based group that demonstrated at nuclear sites in Michigan, Ablao said. One protest got her six months in jail.

In all, Sister Hudson was arrested at least a dozen times and also served time in prison, said Ablao. Once, she and two other women went into a minuteman-missile site in Colorado and pounded on a cover to the missile and prayed for nuclear disarmament, Ablao said. For that she served 18 months.

Sister Hudson also worked as a driver for Kitsap Transit for six years.

Her brother, Frank Hudson, said he was proud of his little sister.

"I was extremely proud of her," he said. "I always looked up to her for being brave to do what she believed."

He didn't fault her for moving across the country. "We knew that's where she had to be. She and her friend Sue were aware of the Trident submarines and it seemed a natural place to go."

Frank Hudson said his sister loved teaching and that her passion for nuclear disarmament was an extension of her care and concern for young people.

"A lot of what drove her had to do with keeping the world safe for the kids," he said. "It was important to get the word out."

A memorial service will be held for Sister Hudson on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. at Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action, 16159 Clear Creek Road N.W., Poulsbo.

After the service, her remains will be flown to Grand Rapids for a funeral Mass.

Friends ask that any donations in her name be sent to donations to Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action or a favorite peace and social-justice organization.

Susan Gilmore: 206-464-2054 or sgilmore@seattletimes.com. Information from The Associated Press was included in this report.

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