THE STORY BEHIND THE NAME
Do you know who W. Claude Hudnall was? Do you know why his fellow citizens considered him so outstanding that they decided to name a school in his honor? If the answer to both questions is “no” it would perhaps not be too surprising because he was a very unassuming man and shunned newspaper publicity.
We are indebted to his charming daughter, Victoria Bernbaum, for more insight into his character. (His remembers him fondly as a very positive person who never said anything bad about anyone, as a father who didn’t punish his children, but tool time to talk to them instead, in fact a very family-centered man.
He was born in August 26, 1889 in Gran Junction, Colorado. He had two sisters and five brothers, one of whom died in infancy. His father worked for the Santa Fe Railroad, so the family moved frequently. His education was received in Colorado, New Mexico (Alamogordo) and Texas (El Paso). . His formal education ended with the 10th grade, but he continued to study in night school.
Hudnall came first to Redondo Beach and then to Los Angeles. He was married in Los Angeles in March, 1914. His first employment there was manager of the laundry at California Lutheran Hospital. He next became purchasing agent for Methodist Hospital and later for Juvenile Hall in Los Angeles. He had moved his family to Inglewood in 1923 Welton Way in the new development that’s was covering North Inglewood, replacing the poultry farms
At that time came a friend, Don Belding, had to resign from the Inglewood Board of Education because of moving out of the city. He recommended Claude Hudnall as his replacement and the appointment was made in1931 by Mark Keppel, Los Angeles County Superintendent of Schools, for the unexpired term to end in 1934.
Hudnall was re-elected in 1934 for a three-year term, but resigned in December to become business manager for the school district, a position he held for nine years until his death May 4, !934. He came following the difficult days of the Depression, but fortunately the city was on the upgrade. The population was 25, 000 with new families moving in, and Inglewood retail businesses were serving a population of 100,000 within a ten-mile radius. On the debit side was the 1933 earthquake, which did considerable damage to Highland, Kelso and Oak Street Schools, which practically had to be rebuilt to conform to the new earthquake standards. The old Queen Street School was also soon demolished.
Hudnall also took part in community life. He was a member of Fairview Lodge 624 of Free and Accepted Masons, was Master of the Lodge in 1932 and secretary at the time of his death. During World War II he served as an air raid warden and also planted a Victory Garden on a lot on La Brea near the Americans Legion Hall. Gardening was his special hobby, one inherited by his daughter Virginia, who recalls gardening with him and enjoying a friendship with her father.
Another service was a member of the Methodist Church. He was chairman of the building committee for the new building at Kelso and Spruce Streets that replaced the original one on the northwest corner of Commercial (now La Brea) and Pimiento (now Manchester). His funeral was on of the first held in the new church building. Schools were closed for the day and on the front page of “The Citizens” of May 13, 1943, nine days after his death, appeared a resolution which well explains why three years later a school was named in his honor.