LINDEN, NJ — Some people manage to make an indelible mark on those who know them, and Susan Hudak was just that person.
Hudak, a resident of the city of Linden for many years, died Jan. 29 at the age of 59, but the impact she had on the community, specifically on Linden’s school district, is being remembered by family, friends and community members.
Hudak, who was born in Summit and raised in Newark and Irvington, was a resident of Linden for 40 years. She was a member of Linden’s Board of Education for more than 18 years, acting as an advocate for Linden’s students in her capacity as BOE president, member, and volunteer and officer at Linden’s PTA.
Most recently, Hudak worked as a clerk for the city of Linden.
Hudak, who was a member of Union County’s Democratic Committee and the Linden Democratic Club, was the wife of Superior Court Judge John Hudak and mother of Union County Freeholder Christopher Hudak.
According to Christopher Hudak, his mother, Sue, was a woman who liked being kept busy.
“She liked to spread herself thin,” Chris Hudak told LocalSource in a phone call. “She enjoyed being busy and helpful.”
Chris Hudak spoke of his mother’s many years of service to the Linden school district.
“A lot of people think of the BOE as a stepping stone,” Chris Hudak said, who recalled that for his mother, it was the ultimate position. “She ran for the BOE every three years. For her, that was her dream job. It’s what she wanted to do and what she wanted to be. She was a super volunteer for years. It is volunteerism at its finest.”
Chris Hudak said that his mother was passionate about Linden’s kids.
“She wanted to have her voice heard,” Chris Hudak said of his mother. “She never stopped having that passion.”
Everyone knew Sue, according to Chris Hudak, and everyone was touched by her kindness.
“It’s amazing to me every time I go to a building and see crossing guards, janitors, teachers, principals,” Chris Hudak said. “Everyone always said how great she was. ‘We love your mom,’ is what everyone always tells me. Every kid was like her own. If she latched on to your cause, she was ferocious.”
Sue Hudak, who was previously employed by both the Suburban Heart Group in Union for 10 years, as well as for Union County Nephrology in Kenilworth for 20 years, was also passionate about making sure that patients who walked through the doors of both facilities were cared for.
“Even at work, if someone was rejected for medical coverage, she would make it her business to fix it and get them covered,” Chris Hudak recalled. “She was going to fix your problem. That’s how she was.”
Linden Superintendent of Schools Danny Robertozzi, spoke fondly of Sue Hudak.
“Sue was an extraordinary board member and advocate for the children in our community,” Robertozzi told LocalSource in an email. “This was her 19th year on the Linden Board of Education. Mrs. Hudak was visible at all school events, PTA functions, and consistently made sure that the students of Linden had everything they needed.”
Robertozzi described Sue Hudak as a fixture at Linden schools.
“During her time on the board, Mrs. Hudak served as the president four different times and played an active role on every board committee,” he said. “She loved “Family Science” and was a fixture at School No. 6 during these events. In addition to her love of all our students, she was a devoted mother and grandmother. We’ve lost a dynamic advocate for our children and it’s a big loss for Linden School District. She will be missed greatly.”
Chris Hudak said that his mother focused on kids who were often overlooked.
“There were a lot of kids in our neighborhood — good kids who were trying — and she made it one of her missions to hold these dinners to honor their actions,” Chris Hudak said. “Every kid needs to be built up.”
Chris Hudak also noted his mother’s uncanny ability to remember names and faces.
“She had this great ability to remember names and faces,” he said. “She remembered kids who I went to middle school and high school with. She always wanted to give kids from Linden a chance,” said Chris Hudak, who noted that his mother would often recommend “Linden kids” for jobs. “She was always so proud when one of the Linden kids was hired as a teacher. That’s just how she was. It’s such a loss for the kids in Linden.”
According to Chris Hudak, most of Linden’s past and present students knew his mother.
“A lot of kids knew her,” Hudak said. “She was around. They knew she’d be there. She was so passionate about the BOE. I think she saw the three of us in every one of those kids,” he said in reference to him and his siblings.
In her capacity as a parent, Chris Hudak said that his mother was always there for him, as well as his two siblings.
“She always wanted to be part of the solution,” Chris Hudak said. “She was an advocate for us. She loved all of us deeply. She was the type of mom that if we had a problem, she addressed the problem. She would put herself out there constantly.”
Chris Hudak also recalled his mother’s last day, which was spent taking one of her grandchildren to New York City.
“She loved her grandchildren,” he said. “She had a lot of them and she loved them all. She was always talking about her kids and grandkids. She was herself — she was an original.”
Sue Hudak is survived by her husband, three children and eight grandchildren. The funeral was held Friday, Feb. 3, at the Krowicki McCracken Funeral Home in Linden.