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Thomas Wesley Hughes

March 12, 1923 ~ October 24, 2018 (age 95)

Thomas Wesley Hughes, Husband, Father, Grandfather, Great Grandfather, Great Great Grandfather and Friend passed away October 24, 2018 at the age of 95.  He was born March 12, 1923 in McAllister, Montana to Emily Mackel Hughes and Thomas S Hughes.  He joined the family siblings Edwin, Lewis, Marge and Bob.  They all lived, worked and grew up on the family ranch in McAllister.  Tom went the first 8 years of school at McAllister and graduated from Ennis High School. He continued working on the ranch with his parents after graduation. He was attracted to the red haired neighbor gal, Darlene Harris, whose parents owned the local grocery store, but on January 4, 1944 he was drafted into the Army going to Fort Douglas, Ut then on to Camp Wheeler, GA where he qualified as Rifle Sharpshooter. He sailed to Europe July 18, 1944 going to Omaha Beach. He was then sent to the front lines fighting through France and Germany and becoming wounded in November from a 50 caliber machine gun bullet shot into both knees. He was transported to Glasgow, Scotland and shipped back to New York on the Queen Mary. He was then sent to Barnes General Hospital in Washington, after surgery and healing time he was reassigned to Fort Douglas, UT and then received a medical discharge. He was awarded 2 purple heart medals for his service. He proudly served his country. He now has two great grandsons serving in the Army and Marines.  Upon being released he returned to McAllister to work and take over the family Ranch which Tom and Emily had just vacated.  The red haired girl, nicknamed Pinky had grown up and they were married September 16, 1948.  It was tough on the ranch but Tom and Darlene worked side by side raising cattle, sheep, pigs, chickens and always having horses. He was the first to have Angus cattle in the Madison and the sheep only lasted a few years.  In 1951 Paula was born. Of course she began her ranch life at an early age.  Irrigating, feeding cows and haying with Dad and riding the horses. Terry was born in 1953 so then he had two ranch helpers.  He instilled a love of horses, ranching, raising cattle and always having a dog at our side. Several of the nephews would come for the summer and help Tom and Darlene on the ranch. Tom was a hard worker irrigating and putting up hay and would make the boys get up early and tow the line. Another young boy named Sunny Smith worked on the ranch and got us in all kinds of trouble. Tom taught him a lot about ranching and horses. His parents Lloyd and Sarah Smith were great friends.  Tom was an avid hunter. He was a crafty guy and would build his own guns and sell a few.  He would take people out hunting and usually they would come home with a nice bull elk.  That would be our meat for the winter.  It was usually tough and strong but Darlene would pressure cook it and add lots of ingredients to make it edible. Brother Bob and Naomi from Washington would come every fall to hunt.  His other brothers and nephews hunted with him also.  One year Bob brought a tote goat for Tom, it was going to make his life much easier to get around other than the horses.  That was the first of his days on the motorcycles.  He continued with the horses for years, buying and breeding some very nice Quarter Horses. We would go from ranch to ranch for brandings and taking the cows to the Forest Service pasture up South Meadow Creek.  The guys all started doing some team roping after a time and began doing small rodeo competitions.  Tom was a good roper, horseman and trained and rode horses for years. Although occasionally while checking the cows the colt would come back to the barn without him. The ranch life was wearing on Tom as the injury to his knees took its toll. In 1968 he sold the Madison Ranch and moved up Sleeping Child in the Bitterroot.  He ran cows for a year or so and met old time rancher Charley Yerian.  They ran cattle up on The Burn in the Sleeping Child/Rye Creek drainage for a couple of years. You needed a good horse to cover that country and we had some.  It was a lot of work and Tom decided to sell the cows and go to school to become a small engine mechanic.  He graduated from a course at the Vo Tech School in Missoula then worked for a couple of shops before purchasing the McCullough Chain Saw Shop. He repaired chain saws, motorcycles, lawn mowers and whatever else had an engine in it. He then took up snowmobiling and Four wheeling.  He was a fixer, he helped remodel houses and camp trailers, worked on tractors and machinery and Darlene always had him redoing something.  But once again the standing took a toll on him and he sold his little shop, and decided to take his real estate exam. He accomplished this and worked for Marvin Bell for several years before retirement.  They would enjoy their summers in Sleeping Child, taking care of the place, camping and having fun with family and friends then head south in the fall with good friends Don and Vi Thomas and others to the Wild Horse Ranch south of Tucson.  Four Wheelers, Happy Hour and Friends kept the retirees busy. They also did some traveling at the time and went to Alaska with their Arizona friends and Africa and around the Western United States. He always wanted to do a big game hunt in Africa and had built himself an elephant gun years ago, he didn’t get to do a that hunt, but relatives took him on a Blesbok hunt.  When driving south became too difficult for him they sold the place up Sleeping Child and moved to Hamilton on Zimmerman Lane. He was an avid reader and loved Zane Grey, Ivan Doig, John Grisham, Louis Lamour and many other authors. One of the last things he could do at 95 was to mow the lawn on his riding lawn mower and feed the birds. He’d tootle out on his scooter and feed the birds but you better not mess with the lawn mower cause that was his domain.  He lived a comfortable life till the end with Darlene and Family.  He passed on that fixing ability to his daughters and grandsons.  Funny how we all like to fix things.

 He is survived by his wife of 70 years Darlene, Daughters Paula Plettenberg and Terry Reed (Cliff), Grandsons Wes Plettenberg (Regina), Russ Reed (Melissa), Clifford Reed, Great Grand Children Kody Plettenberg, Zach and Zane Wilson, Katelynn Reed (Jon Bounds) and Ashlee Reed, Keegen and Brady Reed, Levi and Jayden Vogan, Great Great Grandsons Emmett and Jax Bounds, numerous nieces and nephews and caregivers LaDonna and Abby and of course his little sh** dog Bubba. Only time in our lives they had to put up a beware of dog sign, for the Chihuahua.  He was preceded in death by his Parents, Brothers and Sister. He was the last of his generation in the family. We’ll sure miss him.

Burial and a Memorial Service will be later this summer at the Grantsdale Cemetery when out of State Relatives can attend.

Memorials can be made to the Bitterroot Humane Shelter or charity of choice.



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