Deceased November 28, 2021

View alumni profile (log in required)
Read obituary

In Memory

William “Bill” Junia Hudspeth Jr. died of heart failure at his home in Austin, Texas, November 28, 2021, with his daughters, Ann Marie Hudspeth and Jenny Hudspeth Stone, by his side. At Amherst, Bill majored in economics, then went on to earn a law degree at the University of Texas, Austin. After a couple of decades in banking, working his way from cashier to head of a trust department, he founded Austin Trust in 1987 when Texas laws changed to allow for independent trust companies. It was the very first such company in Texas, and as its chair and CEO, Bill found his calling. There in the heart of Austin, his company, under his leadership, became a community in which he luxuriated in his work, and in his associates, and where he remained at his post until shortly before his death.  

As with many good things, it might not have been. Bill took, or was asked to take, a year off from Amherst—remember the infamous Underachiever Program—and during that year he worked in a bank. That experience encouraged his return to banking after earning his law degree, and in banking, he found his way to trust departments. Once, a visiting Amherst friend noticed a framed, buckshot-riddled beer can on his office wall. It was a memento, Bill explained, of an eventful afternoon in the field that he was happy to memorialize by hanging there; but as bank merged with bank and trust departments folded into larger ones, the day arrived when a new head of trust came to his office to get acquainted. He too saw that can on the wall, asked about it, and then opined that “it would never pass muster with the art committee.”

“And who is the art committee?” Bill asked.  

“Well, I guess I am,” admitted the new, younger head of Trust.

“And that,” Bill observed, “was when I thought it might be time to start my own company.”

At Amherst, Bill, a member of the golf team and a Deke whom we gradually learned not to call Tex, was well known for his smile, his quick, undercutting remarks that were never malicious, his Johnny Cash collection and his pleasure at cards. His sense of humor tended to shift the ground and strike from a new angle, as with a beer can on an office wall. During our first Amherst days, while getting acquainted in James, I was telling of my family’s Midwestern, bottomland farm and spoke of its acreage. Bill, who had been quiet, suddenly offered that his family too were landowners. “Oh, how many acres?” I bit. “I’m not sure about acres,” Bill replied, “but a block or two of downtown Dallas.” In fact, Bill was from Houston, and he never mentioned Dallas again. But it rings well in his sentence; he was that adept with a quick remark.

He was also and forever a friend, for those who found their way with him. For John Whitehead ’60, it was by way of golf, whenever they could enjoy a round together. For Fred Perabo ’61, it began as roommates their freshman year, continued through his wedding party and on to the vacationing of two young families, both with a pair of daughters, and at least once churning ice cream, by hand, at the Hudspeth resort home outside of Austin. They also corresponded off and on, over many years, especially about baseball.

For years, Bill and a few friends leased land outside of Austin where they could hunt deer. As was often the case with Bill, sport came with an added dimension of public responsibility. According to Gary Shilling ’59, Bill and his friends put their lease in a state conservation program. Each fall, they surveyed their deer population by night, using flashlights and counting eyes, then submitted their findings to state officials who, factoring in the conditions of that year, gave them an assignment of how many deer to harvest. Shilling, an old Eagle Scout from Ohio, who happily joined and long served on Austin Trust’s Board of Directors, fell for those hunts, as for other amenities of Texas that he enjoyed under Bill’s guidance.

Bill always conveyed an ease that disguised the hard work he put in when not at play, and over time, he became a leading citizen as well as a business leader. He was a member, often an officer, of 20 organizations, ranging from Big Brothers/Big Sisters, the Better Business Bureau, the Arthritis Foundation and the Knights of the Symphony, to county and state bar associations.  

In 1963, he married Clare Ritchie Hudspeth, and they were married for 32 years. Aside from their daughters, hunting, fishing and golf remained his loves whenever he could get out of the office, and those sports proved in turn the steady catalysts of friendships, for which he showed a lifelong, and now sadly missed, talent. For as John Whitehead ’60 also observed, “I went to his service thinking of Bill as my best friend, and I met three other men who thought the same thing.” A slight diminution in status, at which John smiled.

David Hamilton ’61