It is with great sorrow that we announce the death and memorial service of one of our long-time members. Elmer Gustavus Hughes, 102, of Chapel Hill, NC died July 29, 2023′ in Chapel Hill.
Elmer was just a humble country boy who was eager to serve his country as he enlisted in the U.S. Army in Tyaskin, Maryland. “He spent he first eighteen years of his life growing up carefree and happy, enjoying the simple pleasures provided by a wealth of farmland, woods, the beautiful and prolific Nanticoke River and a community of hard working, wonderful people. He was educated through seventh grade in the one-room school in Tyaskin and then four years at Nanticoke High School Class of 1938.”
Elmer was a storyteller and could remember facts, dates, people, and history up to his final days. Our Historian spent many days with him during his illness and reports that you could just mention a topic from Elmer’s past and he could take you there with vivid, descriptive tales that made you feel he was just back from that special time in his life.
Many of our newer members may not have had the opportunity to meet him as he has been in health palliative care for at least two years. He returned to Post 6 for his 100th birthday where the State Commander and state, division and district officers joined him, his family and the our members for a very special cake and songs. Sarge Sweeney and Pete Peterson serenaded him as he sat with family at a special table of honor.
Our Historian and Past Post Commander Lee Heavlin states that he first met Elmer in the then Chapel Hill Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 9100. They were both members, but Heavlin was still heavily involved in the the Navy at NROTC Piedmont Consortium with included UNC, State, and Duke Universities. He was then active only for the monthly dinner and meetings of the American Legion and VFW Posts. “We hit it off pretty good as I, too, like storytelling and all things military. Elmer started out as enlisted during World War II and ended up with U.S. Army Air Corps Bombing Wings in South America, the East Coast, and in China supporting B-29’s and other bombers as they attacked Axis Forces. In India, missions were in China and over Japan. He was extremely proud of his service, his family, and Chapel Hill. I could not help but get caught up in one of Elmer’s favorite projects,” Heavlin said. Elmer received a commission and retired from the U.S. Air Force with the rank of Major.
“I do not think I would have accepted new challenges at the VFW or American Legion if it was not for Elmer. He had a caring and “we can do it” attitude that was infectious,” he continued. Elmer’s attitude easily won over inactive members to “active, engaged” mode. He did it by being out in front of the pack. “He reminded me of the scene in Patton, when General Patton was on the other side of the Rhine River and yelling back a stuck in the mud (literally and factually) squad commander to get going and cross the Rhine!” Heavlin said.
Many of us may not be aware of the contributions of Elmer and the Hughes Family. Elmer was a member of the Post Executive Committee at the Legion Road Post. He was instrumental in the development of post rehabilitation projects and funding. He even got his hands dirty. He shared new ideas to create excitement in the Post and the need for all members to contribute their time and talent to rejuvenate the “shabby post.” He never missed a military service, local event, community events, veterans activities, school events, Memorial Day or Veterans Day programs, and more. His attitude and friendly nature made everyone feel welcome. His persona was genuine and that was important as the then Post 6 was struggling.
We will learn more about his behind the scenes drive, ingenuity, and more that helped Post 6 make the important commitment to sell our then historic property. He was also a lead in the evolution from Legion Rd. to our new home and the beginning of our second century of service to the Chapel Hill and surrounding communities.
Post 6 will host a special memorial service for Elmer Hughes this coming Wednesday night, August 9th. All post members are encouraged to attend. As he was there for us in our time of need, let us be there to show the community how proud we are of Elmer G. Hughes. The post will be open at about 6 p.m. and the memorial service starts at 6:30 p.m. Everyone is welcome to share a story about Elmer Hughes as they knew him. Don’t be bashful. This is a time for celebration and recognition of a great and humble aviator.
Elmer will be buried on Friday, August 11th. Details are: Friday, August 11, 2023 at 1:00 p.m.. This is following a visitation with family and friends that starts before the service. at 12 noon at Asbury United Methodist Church in Harrington, Delaware. Following the service there will be a reception with light refreshments in the fellowship hall, after which a Military graveside memorial service will be held in Hollywood Cemetery. Walker’s Funeral Home is assisting the Hughes family.
Always view the linked funeral home website for any changes.
View obituary at Walker Funeral Home website.