Hughes Michael

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Hughes R. Michael

1917 ~ 2014

Ocean Springs

Hughes R. Michael, 96, of Ocean Springs, MS passed away Wednesday, March 26, 2014 at River Chase Village in Gautier, MS from a sudden illness.

Hughes was born in Atlanta, GA to Florence Sherwood Michael and Edith Brown Michael, nee Rogers. His early life began in Baxley, GA. As a young man, Hughes excelled in painting and art. He entered the U.S. Marine Corp in 1938 receiving a recruiter's assurance that he could pursue an art education at university while serving in Washington, D.C. In the Nation's capital he met and married his first wife, Phyllis E. Starr. During World War II, Hughes' military assignment was in the public information branch.

Tech Sergeant Michael served as art editor for the "Leatherneck" Marine Corp magazine. The Washington division of Marine Corp public relations referred to him as "the greatest moral builder in the Pacific." In battles, he drew sketches crouching in fox holes to capture for history and Naval Intelligence the agony of war and the human experience. His charcoal sketches and paintings completed afterward, informed the national war effort and promoted sales of U.S. War Bonds. Surviving examples were featured in "Drawn on the Line: Artists of World War II." Many other invasions followed as his ship, the USS President Monroe, earned four battle stars. Humorously, he recounts the story that he was painting a territorial scene sitting in a clearing on an ammo box amongst tall trees, and after a time a sniper who had been watching, shot the ammo box out from under him, and scrambling off, he was spared to paint for another day. After discharge in 1946, Hughes remained a faithful supporter of the service branches through membership and financial support of Veterans of Foreign Wars. He had a special reason for his attachment to the Veterans' causes as a descendant of Moina Michael (the "Poppy Lady,") who in 1914 started the tradition of distributing poppies on Veteran's Day to raise funds for wounded vets.

Hughes worked as an illustrator for Grant Jacoby advertising in Chicago and Peoria, IL; for Brown Engineering and The Boeing Co., in Huntsville, AL; and with Litton Industries and Ingalls Shipyard in Pascagoula, MS. He was recognized at the 1973 ceremonial launch of the new line of assault ships as one of employees who participated in the battle on the Pacific Island atoll named Tarawa, after which the vessel is named.

Hughes was a member of St Paul United Methodist Church of Ocean Springs, and at various times, social groups including the Krewe of Ulyses, the Singing River Art Association, and the Pascagoula Yacht Club. After retirement he enjoyed participating in painting workshops, public exhibitions like the Pascagoula City Art Show, and painting large stage backdrops for plays and balls in the local area. He was featured several times in local news accounts for his artwork and sense of humor. He continued to be active in ballroom dance groups until succumbing to sudden illness recently.

Hughes is preceded in death by his first wife, Phyllis E. Michael, nee Star; his former wife, Sharon B. Michael; and his beloved sister, Mary Florence Cunningham, nee Michael, of New Orleans.

Hughes is survived by a son, Steven Philip Michael of Edmonds, WA, his daughter, Nichole Christine Walters, and her daughter Sophia Lilly Walters, of Carnation, WA; and daughter, Karen "Kem" Elizabeth Rothe, nee Michael, of Colorado Springs, CO, and her daughter Michelle Wagner, and her daughter and son Roman and Lauren, of San Antonio, TX. Also surviving are half-brother, William "Billy" Michael of Acworth, GA and half-sister, Jean Hendrix of Clayton, GA; and many friends.

In lieu of flowers, please consider donations to St Paul United Methodist Church, P.O. Box 909, Ocean Springs, MS 39566, for its support for the needy.

Graveside Services will be held at Crestlawn Memorial Park, 4111 Bienville Blvd, Ocean Springs, on Thursday, April 3, 2014 at 11:00 a.m. with Senior Pastor Chris Cumbest officiating. Thereafter at noon will be a potluck reception and remembrance at St Paul United Methodist Church, 6716 Bienville, Ocean Springs.

The Ocean Springs Chapel of the Bradford-O'Keefe Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.

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Published in The Sun Herald on Apr. 1, 2014
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