HAMILTON — Thomas Wesley Hughes, passed away Oct. 24, 2018, at the age of 95. He was born March 12, 1923, in McAllister, 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. After graduating from High School in Ennis he was drafted into the army. He was sent to the front lines in France and Germany. In November he was wounded in the knees by a 50 caliber machine gun bullet. He was shipped back to the U.S. on the Queen Mary. After surgery and recovery in Washington he was awarded two Purple Heart medals and returned to the family ranch at McAllister. He had been attracted to a red headed neighbor girl named Darlene Harris before he left for the army. When he got back home she was grown up and they were married Sept. 16, 1948. They took over the family ranch from his parents. It was tough on the ranch and Darlene and Tom worked side by side raising cattle, sheep, pigs, chickens and always having horses. He was the first to have Angus cattle in the Madison. He was also an avid hunter and kept meat on the table with the big game he got. In 1951 Paula was born and Terry in 1953. Both daughters started the ranch life at an early age. Irrigating, feeding cows and haying with Dad and riding horses. Tom and Darlene continued working on the ranch until 1968 when they sold the Madison Ranch and moved to the Bitterroot up Sleeping Child. He ran cows in the Sleeping Child/ Rye Creek area for a few years. The ranch life was taking its toll on him from the injury to his knees so he sold the cows and decided to take a small engine class at the Vo-tech school. He worked for a couple of shops before purchasing the McCullough Chain Saw Shop. He repaired anything that had a small engine in it. Four wheelers and snowmobiles came out about that time and he became an avid rider. Standing on cement for hours started taking a toll on the knees again so he sold the shop and got his real estate license and sold real estate for several years. Darlene then retired from the court house and they traveled the western U.S. and to Alaska and Africa. A lifelong dream was to do an elephant hunt in Africa. He didn’t get to do that but was able to do a Blesbok hunt there. Plus he got to meet relatives in Africa. They became snowbirds and spent many a winter in Arizona with good friends and relatives. When driving south became too difficult, they sold the place up Sleeping Child and moved to Zimmerman Lane. He enjoyed many family get togethers in Hamilton. Kids, grand kids, great-grand kids all visited. Even as he got older he liked to tinker and fix things. One of the last things he could do at 95 was mowing the lawn and feed the birds. He had a scooter he drove out to feed the birds and get on the lawn mower. He was an avid reader and loved Zane Grey, Ivan Doig, John Grisham, Louis Lamour and many other authors. He lived a comfortable life till the end with Darlene and family. 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-grandchildren Kody Plettenberg, Zane and Zach Wilson, Katelynn Reed (Jon Bounds), Ashlee Reed, Keegen and Brady Reed and Levi and Jayden Vogan; great-great-grandsons Emmett and Jax Bounds; numerous nieces and nephews; and caregivers LaDonna and Abby; and Bubba his faithful little dog. 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 next summer at the Grantsdale Cemetery when out of state relatives can attend. Condolences may be left for the family at www.dalyleachchapel.com. Memorials can be made to the Bitterroot Humane Shelter or charity of choice.