I grew up in a very dysfunctional home. The only stability in that home was my Dad. He was the person who influenced my life the most while growing up. He showed me unconditional love, even through all the craziness of my teen years. I never really appreciated him until after he was gone. In honor of this remarkable man, this blog is to celebrate his life on what would be his 102nd Birthday.
Benjamin Douglas “Doug” Hughes was born in Pettis County, Missouri, August 18, 1915. The day he was born his Uncle who, was blind, died. His parents named him after this uncle. He was the 8th of 11 children born to Charley and Virginia Bell (Hayes) Hughes. They lived on a farm in rural Lexington, Missouri, raising all their food, and raising cows and award-winning horses. During the Great Depression of the 1930’s they were fortunate enough to not suffer as others did because they were self-sustaining. They shared what they had with others in the community and I believe this is where my Dad developed his giving spirit!
My Dad worked his entire life. He worked on the farm, planting and caring for the vegetables and fruit trees. He tended and milked the cows and he helped his Dad train
their horses. In 1934-35 my Dad participated in the Civilian Conservation Corp implemented by President Roosevelt. He served in Lake Tahoe, California. Here he learned to work with wood and stone masonry. These skills helped him the rest of his life. After the CCC he worked as a coal miner, worked on the railroads, he was a butcher and for the last 19 years of his life he worked in the construction field.
He was married 3 times; the first was when he was 22 years old in 1937. He married Mildred Shockley and they had a son Benjamin Benjamin died at 2 months old from Typhoid. Mildred was placed in a sanitarium and died 3 weeks later from the same thing. My Dad was devastated. He married a second time in 1944 to Mildred McQuillen. She had a daughter name Loretta whom my Dad accepted as his own. They never had children and I don’t know what happened but they divorced sometime before 1948. The third time was my Mother, Emmajane Smith in 1948. My Mother had a son, Gordon and once again my Dad took him as his own. My Dad and Mother had known each other for over 10 years because my Dad’s youngest sister Margaret and my Mother were best friends! My sister Mary Leella was born in 1951 and I was born four years later.
We left Missouri when I was 11 months old and moved to Southern Arizona. My parents bought a house on a corner lot in a new subdivision just outside the Tucson City limits. My Dad took pride in the yard. He taught me all I know about plants and landscaping. I loved spending time doing yard work and helping him build things. He laid bricks for planters, he built a large trellis for the patio. He poured the cement for the patio, he even made the lawn furniture and picnic table. I just loved being with him. He was always ready and willing to help any of our neighbors with whatever they needed. Everyone liked and respected him. When I was 12 years old my Mother had a mental breakdown and the next 7 years were pure hell! My Dad refused to have her committed and he took care of her even through our moves back to Missouri for 2 years then out to California for 5 years. He showed me that you don’t give up on people because the situation is not ideal. He showed strength of character and resolve that I have always admired.
In the Fall of 1973 my Dad went to the doctor for a cough that wouldn’t go away. After many tests and x-rays we were told he had lung cancer. He had surgery to remove his right lung then endured several rounds of chemo and radiation therapy. He lived for 9 months and he passed away at home on June 24, 1974. He was 58 years old. This was 43 years ago and I still think about him every day. I still strive to be the kind of woman, wife, mother and Grandmother that would make him proud. I know that I am proud to be his daughter!
I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, crafter, reader, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: http://tinyurl.com/Your-Family-History and http://tinyurl.com/Genealogy-Research-Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.