Mary Elizabeth Hughes

Category: Obituaries
Created on Thursday, 25 October 2012 10:19
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     Services have been scheduled for Mary Elizabeth Hughes, a Sitka resident since 1958.
    Recitation of the rosary will be 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 5, at St. Gregory’s Catholic Church. A Mass of Christian burial will be noon Saturday, Oct. 6, also at the church, with a reception to follow downstairs in Corrigan Hall.
    Mary died  at her home on Sept. 13. She was 84.
    She was born July 9, 1928, the third of five children of Michael and Marie (Strohman) Dunn, and was raised on a farm outside of Keswick, Iowa, during the Depression and World War II.
    She attended Keswick public schools until her senior year when she transferred to Ottumwa Heights Academy. She graduated from Ottumwa Heights Junior College in 1946 with a teaching certificate, and taught in small towns in Iowa for the next 10 years.
    In 1956, she headed west where her brother and sister-in-law resided with their family, and taught at Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic School in Wheatridge, Colo.
    In the summer of 1957 she went to Fairbanks to visit her cousin, Pat Lawlor and her husband, Joe, who owned a dairy farm. While there she met Jerry Hughes; they were married the next summer in Wheatridge and moved to Sitka, where Jerry was working on construction of the Alaska Lumber and Pulp mill.
    Mary taught at Baranof School that year, 1958-59, then chose to stay at home for the next 20 years to care for their six children.
    She returned to teaching in 1978 after receiving her bachelor’s degree in education at Sheldon Jackson College.
    She retired in 1987, and for the 1988-89 school year she and Jerry volunteered in Kekaha, Hawaii, on the island of Kauai.
    In the 1990s she worked as a guardian ad litem for the Sitka court system.
    She was a member of the Iota Chapter of Delta Kappa Gamma, a professional honor society of women educators.
    She served on several boards and city commissions, including Sitka Community Hospital, Historical Trust, and the Port and Harbors Commission.
    She was director of the Pregnancy Aid office. Beginning in the early 1990s she and Jerry were a support couple for the Jesuit Volunteer Corps program, which was their most rewarding volunteer activity. She continued with the program until recently.
    In recent years she also devoted time to Sitka Cancer Survivor’s Society and Sitka Community Hospital Foundation. She was a 54-year member of St. Gregory’s and was active in various church ministries throughout the years.
    Mary was preceded in death by her daughter Marie Hughes and a sister Lucille Butler in 1995, and by her husband Jerry in 2000.
    Surviving are daughters Ellen Hughes and Ann (Scott) Winnop of Sitka, Joan (Chris) Gianotti of Juneau and Margy Hughes of Anchorage; and her son, Patrick Hughes of Sitka.
    Her grandchildren are Diana (Don)Morris of Washington state; Trevor and Chad Winnop of Sitka; and Mary, Andrew and Zachary Gianotti of Juneau; and Robbie and Lily Hood of Sitka.
    Also surviving are siblings James Dunn of Wheatridge, Rosemary Connell of Freeport, Ill., and Frank (Maryann) Dunn of Dubuque, Iowa, and their families; and Butler nieces and a nephew of Des Moines, Iowa.
    Charities that Mary supported throughout the years include Brave Heart Volunteers and Cancer Survivor’s Society of Sitka, and Friends of Chimbote, a Peruvian mission parish run by Jerry’s cousin, Fr. Jack Davis. The address is Friends of Chimbote, C/O Susan Trnka, P.O. Box 717, West Fargo, ND 58078-0717.