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E. Hughes Gemmill

December 28, 2012

E. Hughes Gemmill

Troy- Hughes Gemmill died on December 28, 2012 at the Eddy Memorial Geriatric Center in Troy. Born in Evanston, Illinois on December 24, 1920, he was the son of Ellis Hughes Gemmill and Eunice Marthens. As a student his hobby was amateur radio, an interest he pursued for half a century as ham radio operator K2DIM. Following high school graduation in Glen Ellyn, IL, he worked as a surveyor and art studio apprentice.

Service for Hughes in World War II began in 1942 as a radar technician at Warner Robins AFB. Eventually both his graphics and mapping expertise were called upon at Wright Patterson AFB in the "Nick Project," a 3-D map program that simulated potential bombing areas in the Pacific Theatre. He was discharged from the Army in 1946.

In 1943 Hughes married Eva Herbert. After the war they moved to New Hampshire where, with the aid of the GI Bill, Hughes earned a BSCE from the University of New Hampshire in 1950. He subsequently held positions as municipal engineer in Keene, New Hampshire and Brattleboro, Vermont, where he was also a member of the Civil Air Patrol.

The family, which by then included John and Elizabeth, moved to the Albany area where Hughes worked for Barker & Wheeler, Engineers. The Gemmills purchased an historic abandoned farm in Poestenkill, and the farm and the friendly Town has been the centerpiece of their lives ever since.

Joining the Industrial Division of W & L E Gurley in Troy in 1957, Hughes enjoyed using his engineering and electronic backgrounds to solve problems in metrology for emerging space industries. Similar work took the family to the Boston area for several years, where Hughes also pursued graduate work at Boston University in urban planning. In 1975 Hughes retired from partnership in a planning/architecture/engineering firm and he and Eva returned to Poestenkill.

While civil engineering continued to occupy Hughes, as Town Engineer and in Rensselaer County's Planning and Engineering Departments, his interest grew in researching local history and particularly historic roads. He is co-author of a study of the historic road from Albany to Williamstown, also co-author of Rensselaer County's pictorial history, A Resourceful People. He was a charter member of Poestenkill Historical Society and a Poestenkill Library volunteer; a member of Rensselaer County Historical Society, the Mohawk Hudson Industrial Gateway, Society for Architectural Historians, and the Society for Industrial Archeology. He was a Registered Professional Engineer in New York and Massachusetts.

Hughes was predeceased by his sister, Barbara Martens of Aurora, IL. He leaves his much-loved family: his wife of 69 years, Eva; children, John and Elizabeth; grandchildren, Aaron Gemmill and his wife, Kressent Pottenger, and Janet and her husband, Christopher Peckham; also great-granddaughter, Eva Gemmill; and his nephew, Douglas Martens of Aurora, IL; and four excellent siblings-in-law.

A Memorial Service will be held later. Gifts in Hughes's memory may be sent to the Poestenkill Library, PO Box 305, Poestenkill, NY.

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