“He was everybody’s friend . . . He was a bit of an outlaw.” ~ Richard Hughes, Esq. “I could never beat him at basketball.” ~ Gregory Burcham. “He and Carl’s brother ushered at our wedding.” ~ Nancy VanderWoude. “He always made me laugh, always a good guy.” ~ Lisa Vasher. “He went out of this world like he lived, totally chaotic.” ~ Anon.
Gerry Hughes passed from this life to the next on Thursday, October 11, 2012. A stroke October 4th left him unable to move, see, or swallow. His death occurred five years and five months to the day after that of his mother in 2007.
Gerald Ellis Hughes was born in Harrison March 21, 1938, first child and beloved son of Lois Pauline Reigle and Ellis Henry Hughes. Later, Gerry recalled his first years as blissful, growing up on Eighth Street in Ann Arbor while his mother worked at Bell Telephone and his father as a draftsman at the bomber plant in Willow Run. The family moved back to Harrison in 1945. When mothers of neighborhood children would telephone Pauline to report what Gerry had been up to, Pauline would respond, “My perfect boy would never do that.”
Gerry went through Harrison Community Schools when Charles Amble was superintendent and Gene Denny coached football. He graduated in 1956. The United States Army claimed him from January 1962 to honorable discharge December 1963, sending him to Germany for one and a half years. Following graduation from Michigan State University in 1970, Gerry taught fourth and fifth grades at Holt Elementary for five years. From then on he was in business for himself, the septic tank business in Harrison and the crane business in Florida.
Gerry lived in Lansing and Florida but he could never let go of Harrison. He would come back to hunt in the fall and return to stay in the summer.
His favorite car was a charcoal gray ’56 Olds convertible. And he owned a ’58 Chevy convertible. One time, drag racing through Harrison, Gerry passed his dad waiting to cross the street from Phillips gas station. When he finally could delay no longer going home to Pine Street, his dad said, “I guess it’s time you get your own car. You’re not racing mine. At least you were ahead.”
Gerry led the way for two siblings. Jan Elyse Hughes survives in Seattle. Matthew Hecker Hughes, born when Gerry was seventeen years old and in high school, died in 1993. Matthew fathered three children, giving Gerry two nephews and a niece and three great-nieces and four great-nephews in Clare and Tampa to carry his memory into the future. Gerry was married twice, to Sue Atkinson for many years and to Pam VanValkenburg for some years. He loved the dogs Polly, Petey, and Bailey, two of whom mourn his passing today. Gerry loved his chickens too, Sue’s flock at their home on Cranberry Lake Road in Harrison and the neighbor’s when they were in Seffner, Florida. He would give certain favorite hens names and they would come sit on his knee.
There will be a ceremony at Stocking Funeral Home, Harrison, Michigan, Saturday, October 27 at 3:00 p.m. Dinner for family and friends 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. at the American Legion on West M-61 in Harrison.