Hugh James MacInnis Jr. died suddenly on Sunday morning, Jan. 3, 2016, at the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital where he was born. He was 74. Hugh was a true son of the Island, as his name Mac Innis — Gaelic for son of the island — indicated.
He was born Feb. 16, 1941, to Hugh James Sr. and Jessie MacInnis. His parents were both born in Canada: Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. They met in Boston and settled here, where his father was working as James Cagney’s caretaker.
Hughie, his sister Jean, and their parents lived first in Chilmark and then in the Methodist Campground in Oak Bluffs.
Hughie went to school in Oak Bluffs and graduated from Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School in 1961, a member of the second class to ever graduate from the new regional high school. Voted most artistic male in his class, he designed the first seal for the regional high school.
He used his artistic skills, painting only for pleasure and never for work. During his school years he set pins in the bowling alley, opened scallops, and became second class baker with Harold Walmsley, who baked for all the hotels.
After graduation he worked at Seven Gates as a groundskeeper. Taking extended classes after high school graduation, he became a mechanic. He worked for multiple garages for 20 years, gaining his first license to drive trucks and semis in the process.
Hughie’s childhood dream was to drive big trucks and machines. Counting the years working for Tommy Rogers, White Brothers, and White Brothers Lynch Corp., he did exactly that for 36 years. Hughie could make his truck stand up and dance. That was with a dump truck fully loaded, towing a 50-foot flatbed with a machine on it down sometimes dark unpaved roads, or more often in traffic: some 80,000 pounds of truck.
His father’s advice, “to either be rich or a jack of all trades,” shaped his life. He could fish, scallop, fix anything, paint a house or a painting. He finished the inside of his own home. His artistic ability saw to it that any job he did was done neatly, with finesse, so that a lawn would not only be mowed but look beautiful. The gardening he did fed his family and library patrons as well.
He loved to fish, he loved to sail, he loved to be on the water. He had a lifetime marine list of all the creatures he had seen snorkeling, and oh, how he loved to dance! Doo-wop was his thing.
Hugh adored his many pets over the years. Animals, even wild ones, had an instinctive trust of him and relaxed in his hands, knowing they were safe. Once, a crow landed on his shoulder while he was out scalloping. It was blowing a gale, and the crow was having a hard time. It regrouped on his shoulder and after a short rest, made it to shore.
He is survived by his wife of 38 years, Debby MacInnis, and his sister, Jean Smith of Ravenna, Ky.; by her three sons and their families, Donald and Madeline Ben David and their daughter Erica of Berea, Ky.; Russell and Sharon Ben David of Lexington, Ky.; and Joseph and Teresa Smith of Ravenna, Ky. He is survived by an aunt, Dorothy Armstrong of Scottsville, N.Y., and an uncle, Robert MacInnis of Brockport, N.Y.
He is also survived by two brothers-in-law and their families: Richard and Diana Snow, and Christopher and Marleigh Snow of Kennebunk, Maine; and their three children: Christopher Thomas, Hannah, and Erin Snow.
He left many members of his pretend-adopted family. He was predeceased by a dear one of them, Molly Brown.
His funeral will be held at Trinity Methodist Church in the Campground in Oak Bluffs at 1:30 pm on Sunday, Jan. 31, followed a potluck reception at the Parish Hall immediately afterward. The funeral date may be changed (no later than Thursday morning) if the weather is too inclement to allow safe travel for those coming a long distance. The schedule can be confirmed with the Chapman, Cole, and Gleason Funeral Home. Up-to-date information will be published in The MVTimes on Jan. 28.
Food is welcome at the potluck. In lieu of flowers, please make a donation to the charity of your choice. Hugh loved nature, animals, children, and people. He felt they were all his to take care of.
For a man who did not think he was important, he left an awfully broad wake to cross.
Who Loves the Rain
by France Shaw
Who loves the rain
And loves his home,
And looks on life with quiet eyes,
Him will I follow through the storm;
And at his hearth-fire keep me warm;
Nor hell nor heaven shall that soul surprise,
Who loves the rain,
And loves his home,
And looks on life with quiet eyes.