George A. Hough III


George Anthony Hough III of West Tisbury, died Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2015, at Massachusetts General Hospital, after surgery to repair a hip injured in a fall. He was 94.

George is survived by his wife of 72 years, Mary Lu Hough, and his daughter Mary Pat Hough-Greene; his grandson Neil Greene, his wife Amy and great-grandson Harper; his granddaughter Lydia, her husband Patrick Harmer, and great-grandsons P.J. (Patrick Jr.) and Declan. George was the nephew of Henry Beetle Hough, former editor and publisher of the Vineyard Gazette, and son of George and Clara Hough, editor and publisher of the Falmouth Enterprise.

George attended the Lenox School, Lenox. He worked summers as a reporter for the Falmouth Enterprise, and graduated from the University of Wisconsin, where he became a member of Sigma Nu fraternity, with a degree in journalism in 1943. Shortly after his graduation, and two weeks after marrying Mary Lu, he received his commission in the Navy, serving aboard a Land Ship, Tank (LST). He earned a Navy and Marine medal when he went to rescue a soldier who was “floundering helplessly due to heavy clothing and equipment, with complete disregard for his own safety and despite extreme darkness, [he] plunged into the cold strong waters and effected his rescue.”

After serving in the Navy, George was a reporter with the Detroit Free Press for five years. He and his wife became editor and publisher of the weekly Vernon County Censor (Viroqua, Wis.) from 1950 to 1955, where, without regard for his career, he wrote editorials about Sen. Joseph McCarthy. In 1955, he became managing editor of the Grant County Independent, in Lancaster, Wis. In 1957 the family relocated to East Lansing, Mich.

George earned his master’s degree in general communication arts, followed by a Ph.D. in linguistics, at Michigan State University. He continued his career as a professor of journalism, spending a total of 22 years at Michigan State. In 1979, he became head of the news-editorial sequence at the Henry W. Grady School of Journalism and Mass Communication, University of Georgia. He was appointed professor emeritus upon his retirement.

George received the Atrium Award, presented by the Grady School and AmericasMart in Atlanta, Ga., for “diligent pursuit of excellence in fashion journalism” in 1991. He was the author of two books, “Structures of Modification in Contemporary American English,” published in 1971, and “News Writing,” published in 1975.

Upon retirement in 1990 to the Vineyard with his wife Mary Lu, George continued his life of gardening, reading, and genealogy. He also continued his Uncle Henry’s legacy of preserving open space on Martha’s Vineyard as a member of the board of directors for the Sheriff’s Meadow Foundation. This culminated in the recent creation of the George A. Hough Preserve in North Tisbury. He is remembered by his family as a loving husband, father, grandfather, and proud great-grandfather who loved to tell entertaining stories about his travels around the world with his grandfather, George Anthony Hough, known as Pat.

George’s grandson, Neil, flew from Albuquerque, N.M., to be with his grandfather. He wrote, “George had just recovered from hip surgery, a major medical intervention for anyone, let alone a 94-year-old. I thought he was doing pretty well. We read the Sunday New York Times together. We talked about seeing each other again this coming Christmas season. George was many things — a war hero, a husband and father — but first and foremost, to me, he was my grandfather. I’ll always remember going fishing and camping, and making blueberry pancakes on the beach with him, and diving off protruding rocks in the sounds while stepping over barnacles and looking off to the ever-so-far-away, but still visible, Elizabeth Islands. I’ll always remember his skill as a gardener, and the blue ribbons he won at the Martha’s Vineyard Agricultural Fair for his garlic, tomatoes, and squash. Getting garlic for Christmas was the best. In return, when we asked what he wanted, he would tell us, ‘Manure.’ I don’t know that he ever got it for Christmas. George lives on, too. I’m working on my doctorate because of him. I never would have persisted without his example. I care about inequality, civic participation, and community because of him. George would often say that you just have to keep plugging away. We will, and we will always remember him. Thank you for everything, George.”

A memorial service for George will be held at some time in the future. Donations in his memory may be made to the The Sheriff’s Meadow Foundation, RR1 Box 319X, Vineyard Haven, MA 02568.