SUNBURY - A well-known restaurant owner and retired police officer who was killed in a traffic accident Wednesday night is being remembered with fondness by employees and customers.

In fact, William R. Hudson's well-known Pop Snyder's Lunch operated as normal Thursday despite the tragic news, family and workers alike agreeing he would have wanted it that way.

Hudson, 65, of Sunbury, was killed when his truck traveled off Route 192 and crashed head-on into a large tree in West Buffalo Township, Union County, approximately two miles west of Forest Hill, according to state police at Milton. Hudson, a native of Shamokin, was pronounced dead in Evangelical Community Hospital in Lewisburg from injuries suffered in the 6:45 p.m. accident.

He owned Pop Snyder's Lunch, at 248 Market St. near Cameron Park, for approximately 15 years and served as a Sunbury police officer for 21 years before retiring in 1995. His father, William, was a Shamokin police officer for 28 years before retiring in 1979.

Police said Hudson was driving a 2007 Chevrolet Silverado west when, for an unknown reason, his truck traveled to the left and across the eastbound lane before exiting the south berm and striking the tree.

Police said Hudson, who was not wearing a seat belt, was transported by ambulance to the hospital. His truck was heavily damaged.

Shock, sadness

Hudson's death saddened and shocked many in the community. Sunbury Police Chief Steve Mazzeo referred to Hudson as a "legend in the police department."

"I didn't have the honor of working with Bill, but I know he was a well-respected police officer and I always enjoyed discussing police work with him," he said Thursday. "We will sorely miss him."

Hudson was a patrolman in Sunbury from May 17, 1974, to April 3, 1995.

The mood was understandably very somber at the restaurant.

"He was a sweetheart of a man who will be very much missed," said customer Andrea Hill, of Selinsgrove, who has been eating at the restaurant for about 15 years.

Hill's 20-year-old daughter, Kandra Hill, of Milton, added, "It's going to be weird coming in here and not seeing Bill. He always teased me."

Other loyal patrons at the restaurant Thursday afternoon said they were too shaken by the tragedy to comment.

Keep it open

Bonnie Cody, of Sunbury, an employee for approximately 10 years, was in tears about losing her boss and close friend.

"We talked with Bill's family about closing the restaurant today, but everyone agreed that Bill would want us to keep it open," Cody said.

She said, "Bill was like family to me. He did so much for me over the years and my heart feels like it fell out. I can't picture him not walking into this restaurant. He was a wonderful man who will be missed by his family, friends and customers."

Sunbury Treasurer Beth Kremer, whose office is located across the street from Hudson's popular eatery, said, "He was a good policeman and nice guy. He was always pleasant when he came in to pay his taxes and was very generous to the community."

Cpl. Robert Wolfe of the Northumberland County Sheriff's Office, who has always loved the hot dogs at Pop Snyder's, described Hudson as a "very likable and respected individual" who enjoyed cooking.

Wolfe, a retired Shamokin police officer, recalled Hudson's father working with his uncle, Russ Wolfe, at Shamokin Police Department.

"Bill's dad and my uncle were partners on the force. They came on together and retired together in 1979," Wolfe said.