East Tennessee and the Vols are mourning the death of Dr. Earl C. Hudson, who died Saturday at the age of 91.

Earl had just celebrated his birthday a week before, on June 17.

Earl and his wife Martha Hudson are the second generation of owners of UT's living mascot, Smokey. The two have cared for four generations of Smokey since 1994 after the owners of Smokey I through VII Rev. Bill Brooks and his wife Mildred passed away.

Earl was Mildred's brother and took responsibility of training and caring for future generations of the famous blue tick coon hound. He trained the proud lineage from Smokey VII to Smokey X, and those who knew him say he was passionate about caring for animals.

Earl's son, Charles Hudson, is the current owner of the Smokey. He spoke with WBIR Wednesday morning and said Mr. Earl loved his family, Fountain City Community, and University of Tennessee. 

"I have been honored to know the Hudson family for the past 25 years, and I cherish my relationship with the family and especially with Mr. Earl," Tennessee Spirit Coordinator Joy Postell-Gee said. "Mr. Earl's passion for the Vols was unrivaled, as evidenced by his many years of commitment to afford Tennessee fans the privilege to share his beloved canines."

Earl and his wife were also the owners of Knoxville's Hudson Drug Store, where he served as a pharmacist. 

After Earl's first wife, Martha, passed away. He remarried Bernice Hudson. The pair cared for Smokey 9 together and and Earl's son, Charles, said she was an incredible caregiver to Mr. Earl.

According to UT, the family will receive friends Thursday from 5 to 7 p.m. at Stevens Mortuary. A Celebration of Life service will follow at 7 p.m.

The family is asking for memorial contributions may be made to the General Fund of Smithwood Baptist Church at 4914 Jacksboro Pike in Knoxville in lieu of flowers. Military honors will be performed at Dr. Hudson’s private graveside service by the East Tennessee Veterans Honor Guard, as he was a U.S. Army veteran of the Korean War.

Smokey X is in good hands with Earl's son and his daughter-in-law Charles and Cindy Hudson, who will continue to care for Smokey and uphold the Vol's tradition of having a living mascot for generations to come. The two were the ones to find Smokey X in Tennessee after the original bloodline from South Carolina ran out.