Obituary: William F. “Bill” Hughes

Posted at 3:48 PM, Sep 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-16 17:48:38-04

William F. “Bill” Hughes, 75, of Helena, passed away Thursday, September 9, 2021. Our father, often known as “Will”, was a maverick of sorts, a patriot, a man of God and the patriarch of our immediate family. It was through these corridors that we came to know him and it’s through this context that we remember and speak of him now.

A son of Montana, our father was an independent thinker by birth as his own father embodied this spirit and this way of taking on the world. Our dad maintained this legacy by largely going his own way in life, wearing labels as mundane as ‘self-employed’ or as remarkable and as principled as identifying and executing his life as a ‘resistor’: one who refused not just to repeat herd-mentality mantras but who refused to emulate even the movements of the masses. If the crowd went East, our dad headed West, often on his own. He did not mind the relative isolation of such decisions, but in fact mentioned “the view was better from there anyway”. We often interpreted this disposition as curious, and as something which needed explanation. But as we grew older, we came to see the genius in our dad’s paradigm, and as we came to know him more and more, we realized the explanations were unnecessary. He was an adherent to Mark Twain’s observation that the majority is almost always mistaken, and that we should always question the official account of everything.

Our dad was a patriot. He served in Vietnam, was honorably discharged, and routinely referred to the Constitution as America’s unfailing guide to True North. Every now and then he would retell the story of being at a Memorial Day event in Manhattan when he was a boy, where World War I and II veterans were being honored for their service and sacrifices. When he would recall that event, he would become emotional over those who served their country, veterans and patriots all. We remember these words in particular, “never came home”, as terms which caused his voice to shift and to give out… he, after all, had come home. Our dad was also eager to promote America’s founders and to advance the principles of freedom they conceived and implemented. Our father didn’t feel America remained in any ideal state, but he did encourage us kids, and anyone else who would listen, to stay true to the founding principles and to work toward a better America.

We cannot imagine topics more concerning to our dad than those which revolved around the salvation of America and of his children’s souls. Raised as a Roman Catholic, our father embraced other religious practices, but ended his life as a man of God. He embodied his faith in his countless interactions with humanity: whether it be a helping hand or a kind word, he would always manage to impart the importance he saw in helping to save the lost. He had a special gift for seeing the humanity in those whom society had cast off, and he encouraged everyone to love their neighbor as they did themselves.

He loved life. Amongst a much longer list, he enjoyed weekend drives in the mountains, mashed potatoes and gravy, bluegrass music, Vernors Ginger Ale, college football (“Go Griz!”), tinkering with cars, cars in general, rocks, a really good cheeseburger, the weather in various western locales, and discussing the contents of The Book. He also loved music, and although he couldn’t sing a note, he always said he looked forward to singing with the angels in Heaven. He lived passionately, courageously, and with principle. Our dad loved his family, had many friends across the country, and was the most influential man in all three of our lives. We are, the three of us and our children, extensions of him, and it is his spirit which moves through us now. We will miss him fiercely.

William Floyd “Bill” “Will” Hughes, born February 27, 1945 in Townsend, MT to Vernon R. Hughes and Mary E. (Bryson) Hughes, the second of two children. He was raised and schooled in Manhattan, Montana and graduated from the University of Utah. Our dad was a U.S. Army veteran of the Vietnam War. He was married to Janet Jenkins, Beverly Snyder, and Barbara Gravely, and is survived by three children: Mark Girdler of Helena, MT, Liam (Elizabeth) Hughes of Graham, WA and Samantha Hughes of Portland, OR, and four grandchildren and a multitude of brothers and sisters: Patrick (Karlene) Hughes of Fort Lauderdale, FL, Karin (Bud) Truswell of Wenatchee, WA, Diane Sessions of West Jordan, UT, Timothy Hughes of West Jordan, UT, Kerry (Pete Spaulding) Hughes of South Seattle, WA and Jonathan (Janet) Hughes of Lewistown, ID.

There will be an 11 A.M. Graveside Service at MeadowView Cemetery in Manhattan, MT on Saturday, September 25, with a reception to follow at noon in Manhattan. Please feel free to attend either gathering and to share your experiences and reflections concerning our dad.

Arrangements are in the care of Dokken-Nelson Funeral Service