GERARD "GERRY" McHUGH, 45
LAKELAND - Gerard (Gerry) McHugh, Lakeland, 45 died of cardiac arrest at home unexpectedly Friday, January 13, 2012. Gerry was born in Milltown, County Galway, Ireland on July 20, 1966 to Patrick Joseph and Bridie Murray McHugh. He came to Boston on March 15, 1987 and it was there that he met Mary (Molly) Hartnett whom he married in 1989. Their daughters, Grace and Kate McHugh were born in 1992. Grace attends the University of Florida and Kate attends the University of Notre Dame. Their son Seamus was born in 1995, and their son Jack was born in 1997. Seamus and Jack both attend Santa Fe Catholic High School.
Gerry and Molly moved from Boston to Orlando, Florida in 1989 and then to Lakeland, Florida where on March 15, 1996, the anniversary of his arrival to this country, he opened Molly McHugh's Irish Pub - fulfilling a lifetime dream of opening his own Irish Pub before his 30th birthday. Molly's, as the pub is affectionately known, was the impetus for the development of a revived downtown Lakeland. He subsequently opened Hurricane Alley and The Gym Sports Bar & Grill across the street from Molly's. These enterprises, steered by Gerry and his wife, Molly, became an anchor for the Lakeland downtown revival. Gerry's friendly, cheerful and enthusiastic personality, charm, work ethic, caring and integrity were enjoyed and admired by all who knew him.
Since moving to Lakeland, he and his family have been active members of St. Joseph's Church. He could often be seen volunteering at his children's school, St. Joseph's Academy. This included many years of coaching boys' and girls' soccer, basketball and flag football. On most days you could find him cheering on young people in sports and school activities. He was the Chairman of the St. Joseph's School Foundation and a former member of the Lakeland Downtown Development Association.
Gerry was a member of, and played on the Lakeland Cosmos over 40 Soccer Team and especially cherished his friendship with fellow players. Golf games with his sons, family, friends, and pastor, Monsignor John Caulfield, were also a special pleasure for Gerry.
While living in Boston, Gerry became a loyal fan of the New England Patriots and the Boston Red Sox. A special highlight as a fan was when he and Molly attended both the World Series and the Super Bowl to watch his favorite teams play.
Gerry was especially proud of his U. S. Citizenship and was grateful for the opportunities this country afforded him and his family. And all who knew him were aware that he was indeed proud of his Irish heritage, often flying the Irish flag close to the American flag.
Gerry and Molly and their children looked forward to their annual trip to Ireland where they spent long visits with his beloved parents, thirteen brothers and sisters and their families.
He is survived by his wife Mary (Molly) Hartnett McHugh; his daughters, Kathleen Louise McHugh and Bridget Grace McHugh; his sons, Seamus Michael McHugh and Jack Richard McHugh; parents, Patrick Joseph and Bridie McHugh of Milltown, County Galway, Ireland; brothers, Michael McHugh (Dawn) of Wales, Seamus McHugh (Marie) of England, Ronan McHugh (Laura) of Scotland, and Padraic McHugh (Bernadette), John Joseph McHugh (Anne), Francis McHugh (Tina), Tony McHugh (Marion), and Oliver McHugh (Paula) of Ireland; sisters, Mary McHugh Keane (Joseph), Breda McHugh Quinn (Paul), Anne McHugh Burke (Patrick), Teresa McHugh Quinn (Eamon), and Bina McHugh Jennings (Padraig) of Ireland. He is also survived by thirty seven nieces and nephews.
Memorial gifts may be made to St. Joseph's School Foundation, P. O. Box 30, Lakeland, Florida 33801 or the Children of Gerry McHugh Education Fund, Community Southern Bank, 3340 South Florida Avenue, Lakeland, Florida 33803.
The family will receive friends on Tuesday January 17, 2012 from 5-7 P.M. at St. Joseph Catholic Church, 210 W. Lemon Street, Lakeland, Florida and a Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Wednesday January 18, 2012 at 4:00 P.M. at St. Joseph Catholic Church.
Condolences may be sent to the family at www.heathfuneralchapel.com .
Published in Ledger on Jan. 16, 2012