The Fraternity is saddened to announce the passing of Citation recipient Don Hudler, Ohio Wesleyan ’56. During college, Hudler ran track and, with his twin brother, Ron, joined SigEp’s Ohio Epsilon chapter.
After earning a bachelor’s degree in business administration, Hudler took a job with General Motors. He followed in the footsteps of his father, who began working for the company when Hudler was a boy. From his very first job as one of the company’s youngest advertising managers, his talent was apparent. It was the start of a 43-year career that took him to new places and saw him launch new initiatives for the automotive giant.
In the 1980s, he accepted a three-year assignment in Madrid as regional director of marketing for GM. In this position, he was responsible for marketing vehicles in Belgium, France, Italy and Spain. Upon returning to the States, Hudler accepted a new position as director of marketing policy and dealer relations. The skill he demonstrated in these positions led to him being tapped for an exciting new venture.
Hudler played a major role in the development, launch and day-to-day operations of GM’s Saturn subsidiary. He’s credited with making customer service the centerpiece of the new company’s brand, creating its no-haggle pricing concept and driving a marketing strategy that built near-fanatic loyalty among its customers.
In 1999, Hudler retired from GM. That same year, he received the SigEp Citation in recognition of his remarkable career. Retirement afforded the opportunity to spend time giving back to the Fraternity. He joined the Citation Nominations Committee and spent several years working with other recipients to evaluate nominations for the award.
In 2001, he became a trustee of the SigEp Educational Foundation and made a significant impact on its growth and development. He went on to serve several roles with the Foundation, including president and vice president of development, and was named a life trustee in 2012.
Two brothers who were privileged to know and volunteer with Hudler shared what made him a special person.
Grand President Billy Maddalon, North Carolina State ’90, stated, “Don was an original. His entire career was defined by looking for ways to improve and disrupt the status quo. He’s credited with helping Saturn become ‘a different kind of car company.’ That makes total sense to me. I met Don much later in life, after he’d retired and moved to Charlotte. Don shared with me that he had an affinity with the concept of ‘different’ all his life, much of which originated and was reinforced by his lifelong relationship with Sigma Phi Epsilon and our founding commitment to being a different kind of fraternity. His leadership of the Educational Foundation came at a pivotal time.”
Former Educational Foundation President Jay Hurt, Davidson ’88, added, “Don was a gentle giant to me in many ways, both figuratively and literally. A giant in industry, a giant in spirit and character, a giant in his commitment to his family, and simply a brother with a giant heart. Don pursued his work as a trustee and president of the Sigma Phi Epsilon Educational Foundation with a commitment and determination that served his beloved Fraternity well, and he was both a role model and mentor to me in the years that followed. I will always remember fondly Don’s smile, his sense of humor, and the genuine love that he so freely shared with me and so many others.”
Don Hudler will forever be admired for his achievements in the business world and his lasting impact on SigEp.