FSU Foundation

Remembering The Ringling: A Story of Giving to a Childhood Love

Hudson Smith

Hudson Smith and his wife, Anne, have been Circle members at The Ringling for 10 years. After a degree in chemical engineering and a prominent career in the phosphate industry that has taken him around the world, Hudson and Anne retired to Venice, Florida in 2006. It is there that he was finally able to put a lot of time into his hobbies of traveling and photography. After every trip that he and Anne take, Hudson curates a photographic book documenting their incredible journey. In 2011, after amassing a considerable collection of photographs of Venice, Florida he completed a book on Venice and even sold around 400 copies to city government, locals and even travelers. However, his love of photography and appreciation of the arts is not exactly what led him to The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art. Like many, his relationship with The Ringling began long ago with the circus.

One of Hudson’s fondest memories of his childhood is when his grandfather used to take him to see The Ringling Brothers Circus in Illinois. “I remember being a little kid and my grandfather would take me to see the circus every summer when they came through his little town. We would get up early in the morning to watch them set up the tent. It was such a spectacle to watch them set-up and see the elephants helping to raise the tent poles. We would come back for the circus show at night, and after the show we’d stay late to watch the tent drop.”

In 2020, while revising his original estate plan, Hudson decided that he wanted to do something in honor of that memory that is so special to him. He decided to leave an incredible legacy gift to The Ringling for $1,000,000 from his IRA. This generous gift will benefit the Circus Museum, the Bayfront Gardens and Ca’ d’Zan. “The Ringling adds so much value to the community. It has wonderful support from FSU and leaving this gift ensures that future generations can enjoy it. The Ringling is a very valuable and distinctive place in the United States. It is important to preserve its legacy. Hopefully my story will inspire someone to give as well.”

It is easy to understand why the Circus Museum at The Ringling is so special to Hudson, and why leaving a planned gift to the museum has brought him joy. For additional information on how to give a gift from your IRA or to learn more about giving to The Ringling through your will or estate plan, please contact Michelle A. Young at michelle.young@ringling.fsu.edu or (941) 374-0214.