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Ohio Wesleyan to Brighten Campus with a New Holiday Tradition
Spruce Tree Planted in Graduate’s Memory to be Lit Each Year for Christmas

November 24, 2008

Photo by Shade Fakunle ’10
DELAWARE, OHIO – Ohio Wesleyan University will observe the 2008 holiday season with a new community tradition: the lighting of the Ron Hudler Memorial Christmas Tree.

This year’s inaugural event—complete with cocoa, cookies, and caroling—will be held at 5:30 p.m. Dec. 7 on the OWU campus, 61 S. Sandusky St. The outdoor event is free and open to the public. (In case of bad weather, the dedication ceremony will be moved to the first-floor lobby of University Hall.)

Hudler, a 1956 Ohio Wesleyan graduate, operated one of the nation’s largest Christmas tree farms, along with his three sons, prior to his death earlier this year. Hudler, his son Fred, and farmhand John Miller Jr. were slain in January when they interrupted a robbery at the family’s West Jefferson, N.C., farm.

To honor Hudler’s memory, a 14-foor spruce tree from Hudler Carolina Tree Farms was delivered to campus in October by his son, Dale, who attended Ohio Wesleyan from 1979 to 1981. The tree has been planted in front of Edwards Gymnasium, near the intersection of Park Avenue and Sandusky Street, where the lighting and dedication ceremony will be held. The tree decorations, refreshments, and a commemorative plaque are being provided by a gift from Hudler’s twin brother, Don, also a member of OWU’s Class of 1956.

“We are particularly grateful that Ron’s family has chosen to honor his memory by placing one of his beloved trees on the OWU campus,” said university President Rock Jones, Ph.D. “Each year, as the lights come on and we are reminded of the message of hope and peace of the sacred season, we will recall the hope that guided Ron’s life and the goodness he brought to all who were privileged to know him.”

Hudler Carolina Tree Farms is known throughout the United States as a leader in the industry and was honored in 1995 to be selected to provide the Christmas tree to the White House. For more than 10 years, Hudler Farms also has contributed to the national holiday festivities by providing the trees that encircle the national Christmas tree. Known as the “Pageant of Peace,” these trees represent the 50 states, five territories, and District of Columbia.

Ohio Wesleyan University is an undergraduate liberal arts college that transforms the lives of its students through a combination of rigorous academics, mentoring relationships, and real-world experiences. Featured in the book “Colleges That Change Lives,” the private university’s 1,850 students come from 47 states and 50 countries. Visit www.owu.edu for more information.