Paul Hudson, the youngest of five Hudson children, grew up on Gasparilla Island. At the time it was a small, relatively isolated community, so the local children had to make their own fun.
“Every afternoon, we’d have pickup football games,” remembered Paul. “All of the canals and the streets without houses were fair game for fishing and playing. All of the kids, from the youngest up, had free run of the island. Everyone looked out for everyone back then.”
Island kids weren’t restricted to the village, or even the island.
“I remember fishing off the phosphate docks with my family,” said Paul. “Or we’d get in a boat and go out in Charlotte Harbor. It was so small and close in the ’70s and ’80s. It was the best childhood anyone could ask for – freedom, friends, activities at the Community Center. They had field days there, and I remember that kickball was huge. We also went down to watch movies at the theater.”
Paul knew what he wanted to do with his life back in high school.
“Pretty early on, I knew that I wanted a career in high finance,” he said.
After his graduation from Lemon Bay High School, Paul left the island to attend Florida State University.
“My brother Brian went to the school, and I followed in his footsteps,” said Paul.
As soon as he could, though, he returned to southwest Florida.
“I left the island for college in 1988 and then my parents left in ’94. When I came back, I knew that I wanted to be somewhere between Tampa and Naples, and it worked out perfectly when I ended up in Osprey,” said Paul. “I can get down to Gasparilla Island pretty regularly. I especially like going to the summer reunions. It’s a chance to reconnect with the people and relive some of the memories that helped shape my life.”
Of course, the island has changed since Paul’s childhood.
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