Hugh Wray Duggins: ‘I’ve loved and been loved’

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Capture1Hugh Wray Duggins was born June 9th, 1944 in New Jersey. He was the eldest of four; Richie, Lynn and Ann were his siblings. He was the step-father of Israel Konopa. He was the friend of so many.

His first job was at a box factory. It didn’t take long for him to realize that this was not the life for him. He quit; handed over the keys to the house and car to his soon-to-be ex-wife and hitchhiked out to San Francisco. In the true spirit of the ‘60’s, he grew his hair wild and began carving out a new life. A man of great curiosity and skill he collected books and tools, learning how to do anything and everything he needed and wanted. He was good at everything he did; was generous with his skills, helping out those in need of a Jack of All Trades.

He and I met 32 years ago and have been pen pals ever since. In his November 2015 letter he wrote “like I told the doctor, I’m not clinging desperately to this life, not scared of death; I’ve had plenty of fun; never had to work a 9-5 job much; got to have money beyond my wildest dreams a coupCapture2le of times; had lots of great sex; I’ve loved and been loved; I can still walk and talk, think and work; got to ride this dirt ball around the sun 70+ years, you can’t expect much more than that. HA!” That is pure Hugh!

In light of his untimely and mysterious details leading up to his death, somewhere around January 20th, 2016, finding this passage offers me some solace that at least Hugh died with a peaceful view of his life so far.

He was preceded in death by his brother, Richie, and is survived by his sisters, Lynn and Ann.

A memorial service has yet to be planned, but some sunny Summer day soon, down by the river, we can lift a toast, and a toke, to Hugh. by Dana Speer Rosenbaum



  • I miss you friend. <3

  • Hugh was pretty cool; once I was filling out an application to have a show on the local radio station and I said, “Look, they want me to say what I can do for the station: carpentry, electrical, plumbing, painting, landscaping, and I can’t do any of that!”
    “Just put ’em all down,” Hugh said. “I’ll do it, I like KMUD.”

    i met Hugh at the Hospice fund-raiser at the Community Park in September, 2007, i had been looking for a carpenter to build a small cabin and this guy named Milton introduced us, he said “Here’s an honest man” and he was right, Hugh always rounded down…It was a cold rainy winter and we often ended up inside playing Scrabble instead of working. this last year i got a roof put on the country house on the coast; Hugh and I went out there at least 5 times to sheetrock over where the skylights had been and do other repairs. On the drives back and forth we told our stories, we were both storytellers, and like a little kid i would pump Hugh for details, recently i talked to one of his old friends, Chip, for the first time and i already knew some of HIS adventures via Hugh…
Hugh……………….I liked it when he called me “kid”…
once, early on, he said, “You’re the only one who teases me,” but hell, i tease everyone…

    After I’d known Hugh a couple years I said, “Hey Hugh, every time I tell you something or start a story or something you launch into YOUR story about some guy you knew once who did some memorable thing back in Oklahoma or somewhere…So tell me, how many guys WERE there?”
    Hugh thought for a moment and then said “Oh, about 150.”

    Sometimes I think shouldn’t I/we do more to try to solve the mystery: What happened to Hugh? How did he die? Why was his body found seven miles from his vehicle? The county probably won’t investigate very much.
    But then I think what would Hugh say: “Forget about it! I’m dead!” He would definitely not think its a good idea to run around trying to figure it out…
    Forever (probably) a mystery…

    Hugh (and I) liked to go out on the town, up to the Woodrose for breakfast…
    Hugh loved to eat, when he came into my kitchen he eyed the counter, see what was available, even a crumb or a crust didn’t escape his feral attention…
    He was a good cook but i wasn’t; i shared many meals with him and once i said, “Hugh, why don’t you ever bring down something YOU made?” but he never did–he made soup with beer in it, sounded tasty and exotic!

    Hugh (and I) liked to play Scrabble. Once he kept track, played 438 Scrabble games with his girlfriend in one year.
    The last day I saw Hugh I found a Scrabble tile under his chair.
    “Look!” I said faux-accusingly. “A tile under your chair…and its a BLANK!” (The most valuable tile.)
    I threw it against his chest, he didn’t even move.
    And like an unconfident comedian I added the unnecessary “just kidding.”

    Hugh was telling this story about his brother, how Buddy Brown went down to the city and his friend completely dissed him, knew he was visiting but didn’t contact him at all. A few months later the disser asked Hugh if he had a job for his nephew and Hugh said no.
    “DID you have a job?” I asked.
    “Yes,” he said.
    “Well why didn’t you just tell him the truth? That he dissed your brother and so, sorry dude, no favors for you?”
    Hugh took a thoughtful pause and said, “Some people don’t deserve the truth.”

    We had a work party at Hugh’s house yesterday, my first time to Alderpoint. Hugh’s place was different than I’d imagined: nice redwood siding and a pretty garden with fruit and nut trees in front. The woman living there was ranting and feeling vulnerable and threatened as we were clearing out the garage and other scrap metal in preparation for the heirs to sell the place; almost everything she uttered was negative and she tried to obstruct us in very meaningless petty ways, yet she moved me to give her a nice long hug, for she really needed one. (Five years before I had introduced her to Hugh as she needed a place to live and I thought Hugh might like the company; I knew she was emotionally unstable so I might regret doing that. Later she had a cute baby, and as she grew into a four year old she and Hugh could be seen walking down the street to the Alderpoint Store on occasion. Hugh really liked that kid.)
Hugh had so much useful stuff in the garage! So many tools, everything you could imagine for a welder and all-around handyman. (If Hugh wanted something his go-to move was to make it himself: there were a couple skunk traps he’d made as well as some stoves and other metal fabrications.) He had said he was an artist and I finally saw some masks and sculptures he made, damn, I didn’t take any pictures of them, oh well. At first our crew, a few of his friends who knew him well, kind of floundered around wondering how to proceed—so much stuff! Finally we got into a rhythm and a couple tons was dumped into the rented container and lots of tools were sorted and stacked on one of the massive wood tables. 

    Everything was there except Hugh…

    • teri garcia wilson

      Hugh was the most wonderful man I have ever met. I miss him everyday. His sense of humor and his immense loyalty to his true friends was never ending. We would take his quad to the river with his dog and two of my boys and ride through the water. All of us piled on, laughing and holding on to each other. Many days were spent gardening or taking care of the Koi fish in the big pond in the yard. Once he welded some small golf clubs for the boys, gave them some golf balls to play in the yard. I quickly went in the house for cover. He was fun. We would play Scrabble almost everyday. Multiple games a day. He would keep track and was kind of sad to know I won 52% of the time. He even bought several Scrabble dictionaries to learn 2 and 3 letter words. I was a baker at Sentry and loved to bake for Hugh. Homemade breads, cinnamon rolls and cookies were his favorites. Everything was his favorite. It was great to cook for Hugh. He was so appreciative for everything. I miss the greenhouse/deck attached to the upstairs bedroom. We grew some special plants there together and I hung some pretty wind chimes of colorful fruit that Hugh would hum to. I have so many special memories of my years with Hugh. Luckily, I have many cards, gifts and memories of and from Hugh that I will forever be grateful for. I’ll always love you, Hugh. I hope to see you again someday.

      • Yes he was a great friend. He also love to argue. Lol lol….. love him and gonna miss that old fart. My boys loved him too.

  • that was nice Teri, we’re starting to put together the memorial in Garberville,
    sometime in mid-june near Hugh’s birthday, hope to see you there…

  • The memorial for Hugh will be Saturday, July 16th, at Noon @ Tooby Memorial Park. (Potluck)

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