Halbert A. Hudson, 79, a former assistant vice president of the Southern Railway System and an employee of the line for 47 years, died of a heart attack Friday at his home in Arlington.

Mr. Hudson was born in Atlanta and attended the Georgia Institute of Technology there. He began his career with the Southern in Atlanta in 1917 and remained with it until his retirement in 1964. He had worked as a consultant in electrical engineering since leaving the railroad.

Mr. Hudson was assigned to the Washington office of the Southern from 1936 to 1941, when he was a signal engineer, and again from 1935 to 1964 when he was in charge of signal and electrical matters. The family has resided in Arlington since 1955.

He was a member of the Columbia Baptist Church of Falls Church and of the Kemper Masonic Lodge. he was a senior and life member of the Intitute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, a lime member of the Signal and Communications Section, Association of America Railroads, and honorary chairman of the Eastern Railway Signal Engineers Association.

Survivors include his wife, Lillian C. Hudson, of the home in Arlington; Three sons, Halbert A. Jr., of Green Bay, Wis., Col. James L., of the Sharpe Army Depot, Lathrop, Calif., and F. Donald, of Branford, Conn.; a sister, Ette V. Buie of Atlanta; a brother, John W., of Atlanta, and seven grandchildren.

The family suggests that expresssions of sympathsy be in the form of contributions to the Columbia BaptisChurch Deacons Fund, 103 West Columbia St., Falls Church, Va., 22046.