Aquatics Center seeks donations to remember community swimmer

Warren Hudgens’ fellow swimmers and pool-side friends hope to raise enough funds to purchase a giant frog slide for the children’s area of the Bainbridge Island Aquatics Center. - photo courtesy of Natural Structures
Warren Hudgens’ fellow swimmers and pool-side friends hope to raise enough funds to purchase a giant frog slide for the children’s area of the Bainbridge Island Aquatics Center.
— image credit: photo courtesy of Natural Structures

Doctors told Warren Hudgens he had six months to live when he was diagnosed with cancer.

Upon hearing that kind of news some people might consider their bucket lists, or get their affairs in order. Hudgens, however, decided to go swimming.

“He always had a positive attitude and was willing to do whatever he needed to do to fight the cancer,” said Sharon Murphy, Hudgens’ wife. “And he was successful at it for along time.”

Hudgens became a fixture at the Bainbridge Island Aquatics Center, where he swam nearly every day, for 6 1/2 years after the time limit doctors gave him.

He passed away in June 2011.

Hudgens made many friends at the pool while spending so much time there. And now, a year after he took his final swim, the pool’s community has come together to remember him.

The Aquatics Center is currently aiming to purchase a rather large, and fun, frog slide for the children’s area of the pool. Hudgen’s friends have been actively engaged in raising funds for the slide where they plan to plant a plaque bearing his name.

“It was other swimmers that knew him, and some of them may have attended church with him,” said Jamie Whitney, manager of the Aquatics Center. “They thought it would be a good idea, and wondered if they could memorialize Warren and attach that with the slide.”

The slide in mind is a 10-foot-long, 6-foot-high frog. Children climb over its hind legs and slide out on the frog’s lengthy tongue.

“It will make a great addition to our pool,” Whitney said.

The pool is ready for the slide. The plumbing for it is already set up, and the space is reserved. They just need the approximately $14,000 to purchase it.

Every person using the slide will know his name, that is, if they didn’t already — Hudgens was part of the island community.

Hudgens and Murphy raised their five sons on Bainbridge Island.

“They were in kindergarden through sixth grade when we moved here,” Murphy said. “Warren was a stay-at-home dad when we first moved here, and he coached them.”

When his kids got older he went back to work full-time as a CPA for King County in 2001.

When he was diagnosed with melanoma in 2005, it was natural for Hudgens to turn to the pool.

He had used swimming as a healthy and therapeutic way to heal his body after breaking his back in Vietnam 40 years ago. He swam regularly ever since.

As he swam, Hudgens was determined to fight the six-month time frame given to him.

Through his will, his faith and the support of his family, he was able to do so.

“We worked really hard to find the best doctors and research the most current trends of melanoma,” Murphy said. “We approached it very aggressively.”

“We are Catholic, and there was a lot of prayer in the church,” she added. “He remained very positive and active.”

Donations toward the slide can be made at the pool on Madison Avenue in Hudgens’ name, or at Columbia Bank where an account for the slide has been set up.

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