Alice Hughes

Obituary of Alice K. Hughes

Alice K. Hughes, 96, a longtime East Fishkill resident, passed away on Tuesday, December 3, 2019, at the Baptist Home in Rhinebeck, NY, with several family members at her side. Alice was born on November 23, 1923, in West Haven, CT, the third of ten children of the late Francis and Lucy (McGowan) Keenan. Her father, a World War I veteran, had been partially disabled by mustard gas, and money was always scarce. Times were particularly tough during the Depression, and Alice mentioned living with relatives for a time to help ease the burden at home. Despite their economic hardships, the family believed in education, the arts, and cultivating the mind. Alice said dinner table conversations were always lively, politics a hot topic. She described riding the streetcar to New Haven to attend the theater, concerts, and free public lectures at Yale University. Resourcefulness, perseverance, and intellectual curiosity were all qualities Alice brought to her later life as a wife, mother, and working woman. She had a sharp mind and was an avid reader and lifelong learner, qualities she passed on to her children. Alice earned her bachelor's degree from Connecticut College for Women, and went on to take graduate classes in early childhood development at Yale, completing all the coursework for a Master's in Education. She taught elementary school, worked with preschoolers with special needs, and became a beloved teacher and director at several nursery schools in the Fishkill, NY, area. In 1977, she began a new career, when she was hired to help research and catalog the contents of the Locust Grove historic site in Poughkeepsie, NY, in preparation for its opening to the public in 1979. She subsequently worked at the site well into her seventies as a docent. Alice met her future husband, Robert Lee Hughes, in New Haven; they were married on June 24, 1950, and enjoyed 54 happy years together before Bob's death in 2005. Alice and Bob celebrated their honeymoon by camping in the Adirondacks, perhaps indicative of Alice's deep love of nature. She particularly loved the night sky, and if a lunar eclipse, meteor shower, or other cosmic phenomenon was on the calendar, you could find her outside in the dark, looking up. She was also a keen birder, with a sharp ear for identifying birds by their songs. In 1952, shortly after their first child, Robert Jr., was born, Alice and Bob moved to Wiccopee, in East Fishkill, NY. They went on to have seven children. At the time of her death, Alice had eleven beloved grandchildren, five great-grandchildren, and many nieces and nephews. Christmastime at Grandma's house was a major event for children and grandchildren, as was an annual Fourth of July celebration. Alice could put together a holiday feast for 40 guests, seemingly without batting an eye, and could always find an extra bed or sleeping bag for out of towners. In their later years, Alice and Bob made several trips to Europe, explored the US West Coast, and spent time in Florida. They also enjoyed visiting the families of their far-flung children, who lived at various times, among other locales, in Sweden, Italy, Maine, Boston, New York City, Cape Cod, and Tennessee. In 2008 Alice moved to the Red Hook Commons apartments in Red Hook, NY, near her daughter Jan, where she lived independently for many years and made several dear friends. In 2015, she moved to the Baptist Home in Rhinebeck. There, she was lovingly cared for by the kind and capable staff until her death. Although her memory was failing, she could still play a competitive game of Scrabble just days before she passed away. Alice is survived by her large and loving family, including her children, Robert (Ben) Hughes of Beverly, MA, Jan Ketchel of Faber, VA, Charles (Chip) Hughes of Wingdale, NY, Thomas Hughes of Brewster, MA, Amy K. Hughes of New York, NY, and Margate, FL, and John P. Hughes of Bloomington, NY; her younger brother Michael Keenan of Stratford, CT; eleven grandchildren; five great grandchildren; and numerous nieces and nephews. In addition to her husband, Bob, she was predeceased by eight of her siblings, her son Raymond A. Hughes, and her great-grandson Simon Hughes Chutino. Funeral services will be private, and interment will be in Fishkill Rural Cemetery, in Fishkill, NY. The family requests that memorial donations in Alice's memory may be made to the Baptist Home c/o Brookmeade Community Foundation, 46 Brookmeade Drive, Rhinebeck, NY 12572. Arrangements are under the direction of Burnett & White Funeral Homes, 7461 S. Broadway, Red Hook, NY. To sign the online guest book, please visit
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