Charlie Hutson - 'Mr. Downtown'

Friday, December 19, 2003

The Cape Girardeau merchants and others who knew and worked with Charlie Hutson had another name for him: "Mr. Downtown."

"He was the go-to person for anything we needed done," says Cape Girardeau Councilwoman Evelyn Boardman, who graduated from the same Central High School class as Hutson and operated different businesses near Hutson's for more than 20 years.

Hutson's death Tuesday at age 65 leaves a void downtown.

In 1984, he started the Downtown Redevelopment Corp. that established a downtown tax district to pay for badly needed improvements at a time when the downtown was losing businesses and customers to development on the west side of the city. The redevelopment corporation brought the landmark clock to the intersection of Themis and Main streets and built the pavilion across from Hutson Furniture.

"The redevelopment corporation probably was the beginning of a whole new downtown," Boardman said.

The downtown business Hutson owned endeared itself to everyone at Christmastime with its inventive window displays, a tradition that has continued for 43 years.

The Cape Girardeau Chamber of Commerce bestowed its highest honor, the Rush H. Limbaugh Sr. Award, on him in 1994. Hutson also received the 1995 Small Business of the Year Award and an Alumni Merit Award from Southeast Missouri State University.

He served many years on the Southeast Missouri Hospital Board of Trustees, this year receiving the hospital's Outstanding Service Award.

His wife, Judi, and two sons, David and Christopher Hutson, survive.

He was a deacon and member of the First Baptist Church.

For the past several years, Hutson fought valiantly and with good humor against various forms of cancer. In fact, good -- and sometimes daring -- humor is something that will forever be associated with Hutson.

Tuesday, with Hutson's death, an era of history in Cape Girardeau ended, especially for downtown, as Boardman and Kent Zickfield, owner of Zickfield's Jewelers downtown, were quick to observe.

Thanks to the many enterprises and activities Hutson supported over the years, Cape Girardeau is a better city. His many legacies will be remembered for years to come.

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