Wilma Hughes
Wilma Hughes
Wilma Hughes

Obituary of Wilma Fern Gull Hughes

A Life of Love

10/10/1920                     Wilma Fern Gull Hughes                    09/14/2020

“National Coloring Day”

“National Crème Filled Donut Day"

Wilma was born in Augusta, Kansas to Opal and William Gull. She was the last surviving of her siblings – Vinnie Stice, Edith (Sug) Fox, Mildred (Millie) Culver, Carl Gul andl William (Dub) Gull.

Growing up during the Great Depression, Wilma’s life was filled with raising siblings as her mother, Opal, died in 1926.  Grandads, gardens, planting, harvesting and lots of canning, kept many families fed. She was always artistic – painting (starting with t-towels, crocheting, knitting and of course, sewing). They did not have much, but no one did, so her memories were full of walking the fields, many Indian friends, pow-wows, and of course lots of fishing.

She graduated in 1938 from Web City High School, soon moving to Wichita, KS where she trained as a cosmetologist, graduated 1940 from cosmetology school, and worked in her cousins’ shop.

WWII came quickly; she told her two younger brothers, “You have to come home from this war. You cannot wait to be drafted. You have to join the U.S. Navy.” She loaded them into her car, took them to Wichita to enlist, and they both came home safe and sound.

  She stayed in Wichita, working for Boeing. Her first two years, pounding aluminum, her third year as the head rivet clerk. She remembers many 12-hour days, six days a week, saving her money for college, travel, and “bringing gifts” to grandad and his new wife, Lucille.

  After the war, she did travel!  She went to Oahu, Hawaii which had only five hotels at the time. She and a friend drove to Florida, seeing the bijous, everglades, made it to the Atlantic, and headed for Cuba. Political tensions however re-routed them and they had an unexpected trip to the Bahamas.

She fell in love with Colorado, soon moving to Denver where she attended D.U., graduating from K.U. as a medical technician in 1950. She worked for doctors by day and Bonfils by night. Always close to her beloved father, she would very often use a three-day weekend to drive home to OK for a visit which was way before interstates and all-night gas stations.

Her family was always close; when her sisters had their babies, she would go and help. Her love for children and family grew into lasting relationships. These kids, and their kids would continue to visit and write their “Aunt Wilm” throughout her life.

In Denver she continued her art, taking classes, learning oil painting, ceramics, and glazing. She became a member of Augustana Lutheran Church, taught Sunday School, and took great pride in being on the committee to find the churches new location, from downtown to where it stands today.

Mom was always a letter writer, keeping connections with many friends and family. She wrote of her first apartment in Denver where she met a very nice young schoolteacher across the hall.  His name was Benjamin Dean Hughes and they married at Augustana. They worked their jobs, were apartment managers, and took on painting jobs in the summer saving money for their first house.

  In their house on St. Paul, she became best friends with Myrt and Orvis Bjornson, who lived across the street.  She would watch their children occasionally including the grandkids and a great granddaughter sharing their lives; the three later generations celebrating mom’s 99th birthday with her.

Wilma and Dean were blessed with two daughters, Mary Linnea and Lisa Ann. With their girls, in 1968, they moved to the house in Aurora. Earlier that year mom had a life-threatening illness and was hospitalized for over five months. Having a new baby and a four-year-old, the tradition continued as her sister came to care for her family, as she also had done.

Wilma started an in-home childcare business raising her kids and so many others. Her family would often visit, and all of our family vacations were to visit granddad and Lucille, and her other siblings. One exception being in 1977, when she took Mary Linnea to Hawaii. Wilma hosted and attended ever growing family reunions full of fun and kids!

Wilma was blessed with and survived by

Mary Linnea married to Marcus Garrard

Lisa Ann married to Rick Woellner

  Eldest daughter: Stephanie married to Andy Rayner

                  Children: Kailey Mae & Corey Jacob

  Youngest daughter: Angela Hughes-Peterson / Jonathon Russel

                  Son: Soren Lee Russel

  Always loving family and children, Wilma took care of her grandchildren & great grandchildren until she was 90 years old sharing birthdays, holidays & milestones. All who were able to visit this past summer.

  Now the matriarch of the Gull family, her nieces, nephews and their children adored and admired her, visiting, writing, and taking her on road trips for family events well into her 90’s, continuing to visit and always loving her humor and stories.

  Mom had two more big adventures. She was able to fulfill her lifelong dream and made it to the Holy Land, sharing memories in beautiful detail. When Mary Linnea returned from Alaska, she took mom to Seattle for a few days then to Oahu and Maui. She so loved Hawaii, contrasting hr first trip where she and another couple were the three people on waikiki beach.

  Mom’s wish was to live out her life at home. To honor her wish, in 2015, Mary Linn moved from her mountain home & Wilma continued her beautiful, active life. Soon Mary Linn and Wilma were walking the neighborhood, sharing tales, and enjoying every new bloom. Her latest adventures included holidays with family, adventures with neighbors, cousins and friends, the Botanical Gardens, a Hawaiian concert (dressing up for it of course), two pow-wows last summer sitting next to drum circles, enjoying the present with memories of her past.

  Wilma went to a day center five days a week and cherished the banter and companionship she shared with her chauffeurs, sharing many fishing stories. Mom formed incredibly special bonds with staff who adored her. Mom comforted other clients with stories, welcomed new people, always kind & witty with all.

  Being raised to always be giving and caring for those in need, she joined Mary Linn volunteering at a local food bank, weekly, for a year. Loved by all, clients, and volunteers alike, everyone would cheer when she arrived; she would smile and wave like a queen. Always sharing her quick wit and a funny remark, insisting clients take their vegetables, because she’d had enough.

  One of her passions was reading the newspaper as Wilma started reading the newspaper to her father at a young age, from beginning to end. He was a brilliant man, however like many of his generation, he did not read. She told stories of how many people were impressed by his worldly knowledge. She was so proud of her father!

  She continued to read the paper every day since. During the last six months (during quarantine), she would sit beside me reading for hours as I started my mask making project for First Nations. Walking inside we would take the “fabric” tour; she’d look at all the fabrics, colors and designs, another circle to check others, and one more stroll to see all the new masks that I was getting ready to ship. Intrigued and amazed at how beautiful and how many, asking how I could do all that, I would remind her that she taught me how to sew and always to give. She would light up with a sparkle in her eye and a smile on her face.  She was entertained all summer with front yard visits from family and friends, especially her youngest new five-year-old friend who made her giggle with delight.

  Mom always said to bring her flowers while she was living and could enjoy them. She enjoyed fresh flowers from her garden every day possible.    


 Wilma touched and enriched all of our lives with her love and care, a gift that we all hold dearly in our hearts and continue to share.


 In lieu of flowers, Mary Linn continues her not-for-profit, masks for First Nations project which has the goal of 1,000 masks over 425 donated at this time. PayPal – moonchildmary13@gmail.com or 11918 E. Arizona Ave. Aurora, Co. 80012.  A portion of donations will be provided to the Southeast Church of Christ foodbank, where mom loved to volunteer.

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