The Hughes family lost a beloved brother and uncle when Kevin died at age 68 from cancer on July 29 after a short hospitalization. He was preceded in death by his father and mother, Robert and Marilyn. He is survived by his nine siblings: Kathleen Bernstom (Gordon), Patrick (Irene Gonzalez), Elizabeth, Kieran (Maxine), Jonathan, Paul, Margaret, Peter, and Amy; nieces Sheila Miller, Deidre Ketchel, Gabriela Braski, Eleanor Willi; nephews Ryan Torkelson, Leonard Plattner, Sergio Gonzalez, Fernando Gonzalez, Mariano Gonzalez, and Nicholas Verhaacke. Kevin was bright, curious, kind, and generous. He quarterbacked football teams, won chess tournaments, understood and appreciated art, mastered crossword puzzles, was a champion Frisbee thrower, wide reader, and longtime softball player. Renowned for his music collection, Kevin enjoyed sharing his discoveries: from Arthur Lee to Sylvester; from the Bonzo Dog Band to Wild Man Fischer; listening with him was an adventure. Kevin retired from the USPS in 2015 and worked previously as a welder, cook, and auto mechanic. He attended the U of M and earned a certificate in automotive mechanics from Hennepin Technical College. Kevin kept a spotless house and yard, valued his teammates, cared deeply for his family, and was always willing to help someone in need. We regret that due to Covid restrictions no service is planned at present.
Brother Kieran: Kev got his start on 34th and 3rd Ave. S. in Minneapolis but my earliest recollections trace to 3905 Grand, a large house with a backyard worn to dirt from kids playing. Kev was just three years older and the leader of our neighborhood pack of Catholic kids. He undertook novel projects, once digging a hole so deep he disappeared or building huge igloos lined with burning candles. Kevin teamed with an elderly neighbor to construct a backyard clubhouse. Always inventive, once Kevin adapted a toilet plunger to a holy water font for a pretend church service.
Paper routes were a boy’s path to cash then and we delivered 83 papers every afternoon on 1st Ave. and Stevens between 38th St. and Nicollet Field. For years, that park was our Sunday morning destination where we learned to hit and catch.Youth sports in those days were hit and miss at best. I remember him playing quarterback one season. I had watched pro football on TV and went to watch him expecting a passing game only to watch his undersized and outclassed team get smeared. All Kev could do was take the snap and run for his life, barely given enough protection to make a handoff much less drop back and pass.
We took classes at the Art Institute on Saturdays and spent time at the Boys Club at 24th and Blaisdell. That is where he won the chess tournament and continued on to a regional tournament in Sioux Falls and won there as well. He was The Man when he returned home that Sunday.
Around that time my mother entered him in a citywide competition intended to provide smart disadvantaged boys an opportunity to attend Phillips Exeter Academy. Kev passed the first round but didn't pursue it further. His mother always thought Kev was the brightest of her kids, which goaded a few of them
We moved during Christmas vacation when he was in eighth grade, a tough switch from Bryant Junior High to Edina. Quarterbacking there was out of the question so Kev chose wrestling. He was scrawny, wrestling at 103 in eighth and ninth grade. The next year he got a job. He liked art, bought a stereo, and was the first to have "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida." He worked as a busboy at the Edina Country Club and bought a Ford Falcon with an 8-track.
The Viet Nam War was raging in those years and the counter-culture was where it was happening. He attended the U of M but college didn’t ring true. My Dad made the surprising decision to allow Kev to build himself a bedroom in the basement and a new era began.
A better stereo and privacy were a draw for his friends and, since Kev worked nights, for his younger brothers and their friends. Poker, fellowship, and dynamite rock and roll were the order of the day, and unfortunately many late nights as well.
Kev always was ready to lend a hand. A wild car ride found me out of gas and money in Chaska early one Sunday morning. The only one to call was Kevin, who awoke and immediately drove down to find a broken steering box. No problem; he took me home and drove me back the next day, stopped at a junkyard for the part, put it in, and home we went.
Kev was a welder then, moving on from his days as an auto mechanic. Kevin moved to an apartment on Ridgewood up the hill from Rudolph's in the late 70’s. Better pay and benefits convinced him to follow his brothers to the post office and he moved to a ramshackle in Edina that fit him well. A postal friend offered him a similar place in Hopkins that accommodated his carefree lifestyle and love of loud music.
The post office also gave Kev the opportunity to play softball and he loved the action and camaraderie, especially the seasons at Parade Stadium. He played steadily until his knees gave out in recent years. He was proud to play in national tournaments and was a regular until his knees gave out in recent years.
His move to his Northeast home was a surprise and a stroke of genius. Convenient to work and a neighborhood he embraced, it was his pride and joy. He honored our mother with extravagant birthday parties that became a family tradition. He loved his deck and yard. He owned a large snow blower so he could clear walks for his neighbors as well as his own.
My marriage and family necessarily created more distance between us, but never were there breaks in our bond. Kev’s penchant for solitude meant we could go months without speaking, only to easily make up for lost time. He was affable, honest, and earnest in his curiosity.
Kev’s precarious health kept him from embracing all the opportunities retired life offers. He was not ready for his life to end
Niece Deidre Ketchel: Special memories I have of Kevin include the $20’s that be always handed out to the kids on Christmas Eve. I looked forward to it each year and always wondered how many I would get. Sometimes it would be one or two and I think one time it was like $120. For a kid in the 90’s that was some serious change, almost like winning the lottery! I also loved how I always seemed to get more than my sister! Ha!
I also remember how Kevin’s house was always spotless, tidy and minimalistic (even before it was cool). He would host Grandma’s birthday parties there and all us kids probably drove him nuts by forgetting to take our shoes off or eating standing up and the like. Well one time just to mess around I dropped some candy wrappers on the floor where he would find them and sure enough he gave us a hard time, but never knew it was me I don’t think.
Other fond memories include thinking to myself that he was a huge giant man and it was hard to hug him he was so tall! Playing ping pong in his basement and ball in his backyard was always a hit. I also really liked how clean his house was and was always impressed that he had such a clean bathroom.
When my daughter was really little we came over to visit him and see the new deck my husband built him. He was really kind to her and let her pick out a special figurine from his cabinet of antiques.
Kevin was very sentimental and I remember he was there on the day my grandma died, just sitting in the room with her, he was very sad (as we all were) but he sat there with her that day. He also had the space to keep a good amount of things from her apartment, which was special to have to remember her by.
Many of fun parties on the deck with all the Hughes’s. Always nice for grandma. Kevin always brought out the delicious ribs at the end and cooked them on the grill. I always liked the yummy food!
He gave me a lesson in recycling that I never forgot. When I asked him if he recycled, he said “No,” that they go through it anyway and make money from it, so it didn’t matter. I still try to recycle.
He always had nice and interesting things to say and random facts and knowledge floating around in his brain I think. He was very intelligent. One of the recent things he was fascinated by was some sort of amoeba sea creature that he learned all about I think from watching YouTube. He was very interested in YouTube, but shunned technology in general (to his credit).
Deidre’s husband Chris Ketchel: My most notable moment with Kevin Michael Hughes
Over the last ten years I have had the pleasure of meeting, getting to know and growing to love and admire Kevin Hughes. From working on his well-kept home, to enjoying his banter and locker room talk on the golf courses of Minneapolis. Kevin always made me feel welcome and important.
He had a way of accepting people for what they were and did not judge based on political affiliation, religion, or path in life. I was always excited to see him, for the simple fact that I knew it would be an uplifting experience. The man was always happy!
To capture a decade in a paragraph or two is difficult, so let me hit the high points; Kevin was funny and crass, sentimental and endearing and always looking for a good conversation. He was smart as a whip and you never knew what he might say next.
I will end with a memory that I think envelops my perception and fondness of this man. One day working on his back deck, I arrived around eight o’clock to find the house empty (which anyone who knows Kev would find this odd.) As I proceeded with my work, Kevin showed up with a bouquet of flowers and a case of pop. I asked who the flowers were for and he explained in his way, that he likes to have fresh flowers around, “It’s just nice, ya know? Plus the little lady at the shop is nice to talk to and pretty easy on the eyes too! The Coke is for you. There is some in the fridge, but I’m not sure how old it is.”
That’s Kev...sweet, to a point, but always a “Man.” Love you Kevin, I will miss you my friend.
Published on August 2, 2020
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