Joan Catherine (Fitz) Hughes, aged 93, passed peacefully into Eternity on July 18, 2020, surrounded by family at home in Spokane, Washington. She is survived by 9 of her 10 children: Mark Hughes, Fr. Benedict (Kevin) Hughes, Marie Hughes, Fr. Brendan (Barry) Hughes, Sheila (Mark) Strain, Theresa (Tim) Drahman, Sr. Marie Emmanuel (Margaret) Hughes, Marty (Evan) Hughes, and Monica Hughes; by 15 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren; sister Frances Hipp; sisters-in-law Anna Mae Fitz and Mary Ann Fitz; along with numerous cousins, nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her husband of 62 years, Vincent Patrick (“Pat”) Hughes, and her son, Francis Patrick Hughes.
She was born October 26, 1926, in Sandusky, Ohio, the third of six children, to James and Marie (Ineichen) Fitz. Joan was raised on the family farm, Fitz Bros. Dairy. Along with her siblings she helped out on the farm from a young age with simple tasks such as grading eggs. As a teenager she helped harvest the hay, a long day’s work rewarded with jumping in the haymow. By the age of 15 she was entrusted with driving the milk truck on its daily rounds. Her upbringing on the farm through the depression era ingrained in her a lifelong love of work.
Joan graduated along with her identical twin Jean from St. Mary’s Catholic High School (now St. Mary’s Central Catholic) in Sandusky, Ohio. She received a Bachelor of Arts in Social Studies from Mary Manse College in 1948. Following college, she went to work as a secretary in the Human Resources Department at New Departure, a manufacturing plant in Sandusky.
Joan met her future husband on a blind date in 1950, and they were married on June 21, 1952, at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Sandusky. The early years of their married life were spent in Toledo and Port Clinton, Ohio, where they built their first home together. The family moved to Columbus in 1962, as Pat pursued a residency in radiology at The Ohio State University, returning to Port Clinton in 1965. In 1976 Joan and Pat moved their family to the Inland Northwest, purchasing a farm in Post Falls, Idaho. At the age of 50, Joan slipped right back into the routines of her youth, this time jugging milk, raising chickens, and occasionally helping the younger kids change irrigation pipes. In 1982 the family moved one final time, across the state line to Spokane, Washington.
The love of work established in her formative years sustained Joan throughout her life. She eagerly searched for opportunities to volunteer in her parish at Mt. St. Michael in Spokane, where she washed and ironed altar linens (a task learned from the Ursulines at Mary Manse), repaired windows, restored furniture, and helped to establish the parish host baking facility. She was fond of the Latin maxim Ora et Labora, mixing prayer with her work. The most frequent recipients of her daily devotions were the Poor Souls in Purgatory, for whom she made the Heroic Act of Charity.
Her family would like to thank the staff at Horizon Hospice and Palliative Care for their compassionate care for Joan during her final days. The continuous thoughts and prayers from family and friends have been truly appreciated. The kind expressions from so many whose lives she touched have been, and continue to be, a great source of solace and comfort to her family in their time of loss.
Visitation at Mt. St. Michael will be held throughout the day on July 22 from 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Services will be private, including Rosary for the deceased and Solemn Requiem High Mass offered by her sons, Fathers Benedict and Brendan Hughes, followed by interment at Holy Rosary Cemetery.
“Give her of the fruit of her hands: and let her works praise her in the gates.” (Proverbs 31:31)