Granville, New York – Mary Ann (Ruoto) Hughes, 93, passed away peacefully in her sleep in the early morning hours of Saturday, May 22, in Granville, New York, after a lengthy illness.
Born Jan. 21, 1928, at St. Mary’s Hospital in Troy, New York, Mary was the second of three children born to Rocco and Jennie (DeBonis) Ruoto. She was predeceased by her parents and her older brother Theodore.
Growing up during the Great Depression, Mary worked hard to help her family survive lean times when her father – who was a barber by trade – and mother were struggling to keep their home on Congress Street in Troy. In fact, while Mary was still attending Catholic school, she and her brother took on extra jobs, she at Montgomery Ward from 4 to 9 p.m. on school days and “Teddy” as a milkman. Perhaps this is when Mary adopted one of her favorite mottos: “Every problem has a solution.”
During those early years in Troy, Mary would spend summers in Poultney, Vermont, at her Grandmother Debonis’s farm. It was on a summer’s day when she happened to be visiting Granville that a young man with a cute wave in his hair and rosy red cheeks whistled at her as she was walking down Main Street. This flirty young fellow was Donald Hughes, a Granville native who from then on continued to woo Mary, even when he was far away serving a stint in the Army. Mary later recalled with a laugh and a shake of her head that Don would call every night – COLLECT! – just to keep in touch.
Those collect calls were always accepted, and it wasn’t long before the two were married, not once but twice: first by a Protestant minister on July 19, 1947, and then again a year later by a Catholic priest to please both sides of their families. From that point on, the two were “always together” for the next 59 years until he left this earth on May 10, 2006.
Mary and Don began their married journey together in Granville. Although she had wanted to be a nurse as a young girl, her family could not afford it. So now as a young bride, she said she “decided my dream was history, and I made the best of my life and enjoyed every day.”
And what a life she and Don built during those early years, first on Pacific Street and then at 19 Williams St. Living in Granville was an adjustment for Mary, who had grown up in a much larger city. But with her ready smile and infectious personality, she made friends easily and became an important piece of the community’s fabric. Whether it was as a cashier at Edward’s Supermarket or during her years as a cafeteria worker and teacher’s aide at Granville High School and Elementary School, Mary was loved by customers, co-workers and students who couldn’t help but smile and laugh at her quick-witted banter and self-deprecating sense of humor.
As she and her husband were tirelessly turning 19 Williams St. into a wonderful home, they also raised “three beautiful daughters.” In Nancy, Donna and Sharon, Mary and Don experienced their greatest pleasures in life. Mary was so very proud of her daughters’ many accomplishments and achievements, as well as those of their children and children’s children. And underlying all these moments were Mary’s values of hard work and determination, as well as her advice to them: “Always put your shoulders back and smile.”
During the many years of family graduations, ceremonies, weddings and births, Mary’s home continued to remain a welcoming sanctuary to not just family but everyone. For many years, her kitchen table was the site for what she and Don called “Friday Night Live” as friends and family like Bernice and Andy Senchik, Kay and Norm Edwards and Don’s brother Bill and his wife Marion would spend the evening sipping cocktails and sharing so many good laughs – usually triggered by Mary.
Mary’s front door was open even for the occasional visits from those from long ago, like the young men whom her daughters had dated years before. Quite simply, Mary welcomed one and all with open arms, some good conversation and wonderful, homemade baked goods, for she was a baker extraordinaire. Her favorite scent was the smell of apple pie baking, and she was still making a mean chocolate chip cookie until she was well into her 80s.
Upon the passing of her beloved Don in 2006, Mary maintained a do-it-yourself attitude. This “fierce independence” could be seen in her learning how to operate a Kindle E-reader and navigate the use of an iPad when she was 85. She continued to be an avid reader into her 90s, enjoying authors like James Patterson and Danielle Steel. But her favorite book of all time was Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird.”
When not reading, Mary would go for a good walk on her treadmill, or she might watch a Hallmark Channel romance or mystery, along with her favorite soap operas. These times often were shared with her special neighbor Jennifer Dashef. But Jennifer knew not to disturb Mary when she was watching Syracuse Orangemen basketball games, especially when the games were particularly nerve-racking and Mary could be found standing behind her living-room chair, rubbing her rosary beads for good luck!
Truly, Mary was one-of-kind, and those who were lucky enough to have known her were better for it.
Left to cherish her memory are her daughters and their spouses Nancy Hughes and Wes Perry (Granville), Donna and Michael Kelly (Middle Granville) and Sharon and Greg Luckenbaugh (Queensbury), as well as her younger sister Joan Trexler of Colonie. Grandchildren include Edward Oakman (Lafayette, New York), Jonathan Oakman (Fair Haven, Vermont), Melissa Kelly (Redington Shores, Florida) and Dr. Amy Luckenbaugh (Nashville, Tennessee). She also is survived by seven great-grandchildren.
In the closing months of her life, Mary was fortunate enough to finish her journey comfortably at the home of her daughter Nancy and son-in-law Wes. A special thanks goes out to them. And while Mary resided there, many others deserve thanks as well for their efforts, including her daughter Donna, caregiver Michelle Guilder, RN Krysta Stoddard of the Fort Hudson Health System, PA Marvin Day of the Granville Family Health Center, Dr. Atilla Kyalar, High Peaks Hospice and the Granville Rescue Squad.
At Mary’s request, there will be no calling hours, and interment and a graveside service will be conducted privately at the Mettowee Valley Cemetery.
Contributions may be made in Mary’s name to the Fort Hudson Health System or High Peaks Hospice, and arrangements are under the direction of the Robert M. King Funeral Home of Granville.
Online condolences may be made at www.robertmkingfuneralhome.com.