1932 - 2021
No Vistitation Date Scheduled
FuneralFebruary 24, 2021
St. John the Evangelist Church in N. Chelmsford, MA.
Irene J. (Butler) Hughes, 88, of Westford, formerly of Somerville, Ma, passed away peacefully, Friday, February 19, 2021 at the High Pointe Hospice House in Haverhill.
She was born in Boston, MA the daughter of the late Joseph and Irene (Barry) Butler.
Irene graduated with the class of 1950 from St. Joseph High School in Somerville. She was a very active and involved parishioner at Blessed Sacrament Church in Saugus, serving as a Eucharistic Minister and a CCD teacher. She enjoyed completing crossword puzzles, reading, and gardening, and spending time with her beloved dog Cassie.
She was the wife of the late Arthur F. Hughes who passed away on Ash Wednesday of last year, the mother of the late Elaine Hosein and the sister of the late John Butler and Marion McCue. Mrs. Hughes is survived by her children, James “Jay” Hughes of Saugus, Mary Villano and her husband Dennis of North Waterboro, ME, Irene McClain and her husband Ralph of Mt. Pleasant, SC, Elizabeth Cole and her husband Geoffrey of Westford, MA, Margaret Moran and her husband Timothy of Stoneham, MA, and Sarah Ahern and her husband Daniel of Chelmsford, MA, her siblings, Richard Butler and his wife Rose of Roseville, MI., Thomas Butler and his wife Jody of Amherst, MA, and Joan Oatis and her husband William of Wilmington, 12 grandchildren, Renee, Daniel, Rosemarie, Rachael, Sarah, Matthew, Nicole, Jacob, Zoe, Danielle, Abigail and Max, 5 great-grandchildren and many nieces and nephews. She also leaves her dearest lifelong friend, Mary Caples.
Relatives and friends are invited to attend her funeral virtually at St. John’s Church at https://www.chelmsfordcatholic.org/ on Wednesday, February 24, 2021 at 11 AM. Burial will follow at Westview Cemetery, Lexington. Arrangements are by the Dolan Funeral Home, 106 Middlesex St., Chelmsford, MA 01863. In lieu of flowers, memorials in her name may be made to the Arthur F. Hughes Memorial Scholarship Fund at 80 Montvale Ave, Stoneham, MA 02180. Online guestbook is available at www.dolanfuneralhome.com.
Our mother Irene, was a quiet, determined, hardworking and humble person who devoted her entire life to giving and sacrifice. She put all her energies into being a loving wife and mother to her family and to her deep faith in God. She was a devout Catholic with a special devotion to the Blessed Mother.
Our mother did not have an easy life as a child. And then raising a large family on our fathers teaching salary was a constant juggle. But she always provided hot meals for her family and all of our needs were always met. She managed this by doing without a lot of things for herself.
We have lots of fond memories of our childhood with my mother. When the older siblings were young, a radio station broadcasted the Rosary either nightly or weekly. When it aired, we were told to kneel in the kitchen facing the radio to say the Rosary as a family. The radio was on a shelf next to the toaster so it felt like we were praying to the toaster.
Every Christmas, we all prayed to the baby Jesus in the manger before we were allowed to see what Santa brought us. My mother always baked a coffee cake and placed it in front of the stable with a candle on top. After the prayers, she lit the candle and we sang Happy Birthday to the baby Jesus. The youngest child would have the honor of blowing out the candle. This tradition still continues wherever the family gathers for our family Christmas.
Despite the fact that money was tight in our family, our mother always shared her concerns for the poor children in other countries who had so much less than we did. During Lent we were given cardboard boxes and told to find ways to earn money and put it in the boxes. When Easter came, my mother donated the money we collected to a charity.
Our mother also arranged for our family to sponsor a child through Save the Children Organization. As a family we took pleasure in knowing we were helping a child who was living in dire poverty.
And as you know, after giving birth to six girls, our parents decided to adopt a baby boy from Vietnam. James, or JJ as we call him, joined our family as an infant. Our parents were so happy to finally have a son. One of JJ’s favorite memories of mom took place when he was young. She had taken him to see Bambi at the movie theater. Then they went to McDonalds where he asked her why he looked different than the rest of the family. She told him the story of where he came from and how he came to be in our family. As they walked home holding hands, JJ peppered her with questions about the adoption which she answered patiently. This is a memory JJ will treasure forever.
As children, we would take vacations at our “cottage” in the country, now referred to as Tewksbury. Some of our best memories were created there, biking in the middle of the street, turtling with dad, and swimming in Silver Lake. It wasn’t until years later that we realized how awful these vacations were for our mom. The cottage was basically a two room shack with no modern conveniences like washers and dryers, showers or tubs, dishwashers, etc…. She spent her time cooking, cleaning, washing everything by hand or at the laundromat, and being crowded into a tiny shack with lots of kids who were probably bickering over something most of the time. While we had fun, she worked hard.
Our mother always loved nature. She enjoyed gardening and birds, especially hummingbirds. When Margaret would bring home stray animals, our mother would allow her to adopt and care for them. She even had for a funeral service for Margaret’s fish, as they buried it down the toilet.
We have wonderful memories of coming home after school to a house smelling of freshly baked cookies or brownies. Mom loved to bake and provided us the best after school snacks. She would then hide the containers of cookies so we would not eat them all in one sitting. But no matter how many times she found new spots to hide the treats, we always found them and stole a few cookies before we got caught.
One of our favorite stories was the one that describes how my parents met and fell in love. Everyone who knows my mother is aware that she was the most conservative, shy, and introverted person you could ever know. She had planned to enter the convent right after graduating from high school. Her parents were not happy with her making such a big decision like this at such a young age and they wanted her to date and experience the world first. So her sister Marion and Marion’s boyfriend Enie (who eventually became her beloved husband) arranged a blind double date for our mother. Uncle Enie and my father were best friends and were both pranksters. When Enie and our dad arrived to pick up Marion and mom, they both were wearing monster masks. Our dad wore the mask for all or most of the date (so the story is told). Knowing our mother, we cannot believe she even got into the car with him. But some how they made it through and had a second date. Our dad brought mom to his house on the pretext of picking up something he forgot. He introduced mom to his mother. Our dad had a very loving relationship with his mother and showed affection with big hugs, and lots of teasing. Mom was amazed with how much they openly showed their love as she had not grown up with this type of affection and warmth. That was it for her. She fell in love and the rest is history.
Our mother would never say anything to her children or grandchildren that she thought would hurt their feelings. She never criticized or gave her negative opinions. If you fed her something that tasted terrible, she would eat it and say thank you. Her granddaughter Nicole thought grandma’s favorite color was yellow. So for years, she always gave her gifts that were yellow. It wasn’t until recently that our mom told her that she hated the color yellow.
Our mother was very content staying home, reading, doing crossword puzzles, and watching old shows with my father. She was not an adventurous soul and did not have the silly personality that my father had. She had more of a quiet, somber and well-behaved personality. Which makes another memory such a special one for all of us. Years ago, our mother and her six daughters decided to take a train to New York to see a Broadway show. On the train, one of the naughty sisters started throwing M&Ms at everyone. We all joined in and pretty soon m&ms were flying everywhere. All of a sudden we noticed that our mother had joined in and was shooting m&m’s at us. We were shocked to see her having so much fun instead of telling us we were acting like little kids. We will never forget this moment.
For the past nine years, one of our mothers greatest pleasures in life was enjoying the company of her favorite daughter, Cassie. Cassie is her miniature schnauzer who was not so miniature. Our parents showed their love of Cassie by treating her with dog food, treats, and generous servings of people food. Cassie of course loved this but grew larger and larger by the year. Our dads favorite nickname for Cassie was chub chub, which did not sit well with our mother. Cassie was perfect in my mother’s eyes and it was not ok to mention her weight. Right up until the end, my mother worried about Cassie and made sure her daughters were taking good care of her.
As we say good bye to our mother, we thank her for the gifts she has given to us. Compassion for those less fortunate than us, the love of reading, doing the best we can despite the difficulty of a situation, sacrifice and giving of ourselves. We feel blessed that we had both parents for as long as we did. We feel strongly that they are together now watching over us.
We love you mom. Rest in peace.