Dorothy Hughes Remembered

Our close friend Dorothy Gridley Hughes died earlier this month in Syracuse. She was 83.

One of a kind is the only way to describe Dorothy. She could be understanding and demanding, charming and belligerent, generous and needy. All that and more. And never reluctant to say exactly what was on her mind.

I first knew Dorothy in the late Sixties through the Stringers, her Eagle Village neighbors, but it was music that really brought us together. We stood together on the sides or in the back of the dingy bars, listening and surveying the scene. The scene changed, but we didn’t. We were birds of a feather.

When it came to life in Syracuse, Dorothy knew everything and everybody. I loved her wisdom and her perspective, her tales of local history and her advice on garage sales: music, lights, funny hats, and free coffee. She made everything fun. And every girlfriend had to pass the Dorothy test: If the two of them didn’t hit if off, she wasn’t worth keeping. As in so many things, Dorothy was always right.

Dorothy drives in a 1945 parade in Walnut Park, Syracuse University.

With two of her daughters living in the Northwest, Dorothy visited Heather and me several times since we moved to Seattle. The first was over Christmas, less than a year after we got there. For a week or so, Dorothy served as our house- and dog sitter while we were visiting Heather’s father. One night she stepped into the garage and had the door to the house lock behind her, with our barking dog inside. Dorothy could get out of the garage, but not back into the house. Could she call the police or try to climb through a window? Our Aunt Dorothy? No way! So she went next door, borrowed a chainsaw, and ripped through the back door of the house while neighbors watched in awe. They found out right then what kind of people we Syracusans are.

That was only one of the many doors that Dorothy broke down over her long and fruitful lifetime. It was a privilege to have been her friend.


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