Patsy Hughes, through the years
Editor's note: Patsy Hughes, 81, the wife of long-time Westside leader Colonel Dave Hughes for 57 years, has fallen into poor health. Hughes agreed to write
about her for the Westside Pioneer. The style is in third-person.
By Dave Hughes
The first 43 years of Patsy Hughes' life was that of a typical Army brat and Army wife. Born in Hawaii in 1929, her parents were Sergeant Bailey and Mary Simpson. He served in the Coast Artillery. She actually lived on the back side of Diamond Head below the gun emplacements.
She grew up inside Fort Monroe, Va., attending the tiny Episcopal chapel. Her favorite childhood memory, described in a 2004 Westside Pioneer interview, was “rushing a block from my home over the bridge above the moat, through the sally port, climbing up the rampart to watch the 5 o'clock retreat ceremony to see the lowering of the flag with live cannon and bugler.”
Her father was made an officer and the family was stationed at Wetzlar, Germany, after the end of World War II. They arrived back at Fort Benning, Ga., in 1950. By then Patricia Simpson was the beautiful Belle of Fort Benning. All the young second lieutenants wanted to marry her, and a Saudi exchange officer-student offered her father eight camels for her hand. But she did not say yes until 1950 West Point graduate First Lieutenant David Hughes, returning combat-decorated from the Korean War in 1952, met her one night in the Officers' Club. On his uniform shoulder he had a live parakeet, which obeyed his commands, sipping from the champagne they were drinking while he was courting her.
They were married a year later in the small chapel across from her house under a bower of swords and have been married 57 years. Their family military posts included Fort Benning, West Point, Hawaii, Fort Leavenworth, Carlisle Barracks, the Pentagon and Fort Carson in Colonel Hughes' native Colorado.
When her husband was gone to the Vietnam War in 1967-68, as well as to other military assignments, Patsy ran the household and took care of their children, David, Rebecca and Edward. Today, they and their spouses, their children and grandchildren - all 18 of them - live on the Westside near their beloved great-grandmother.
After Colonel Hughes retired in Colorado Springs and moved to the Westside in 1977 to see what he could do to rescue it from the wrecker's ball, Patsy Hughes became a true Westsider. She first volunteered and then was hired to help the handicapped in the Goodwill sheltered workshops a block from their home. Many handicapped and the staff still remember her cheerful personality and always self-sacrificing willingness to help.
Because Dave “recruited” his entire family to help him restore the Westside over the last 35 years, Patsy always supported her children and often took care of the grandchildren during performances of historical skits in Bancroft Park, portraying characters at the Cemetery Crawl or parading at Territory Days. After the Old Colorado City Historical Society (OCCHS) created the History Center in 1992, she baked more tasty cookies than any other OCCHS lady for the fundraising bake sales at the Garvin Cabin year after year. Many members remember her for that tangible contribution.
When asked this week what she likes about the Westside, Patsy answered - “the quiet” and the “friendly people.” Then she added “The Westside Pioneer” (which surprised and pleased its editor, Kenyon Jordan). She also said she loves the history of the Westside. Always on the lookout for items related to its history, she loved to drive to estate sales by herself. Over the years, she has filled their 1900 home with memorabilia she has collected.
Now 81, she is unable to participate in things anymore, but she helped cook for all 18 family members last Thanksgiving and Christmas at her home.
Kenyon asked Dave to ask Patsy one last question “Why did you stay with Colonel Hughes all these years?”
She just smiled and said, “I fell in love and am still in love.” And squeezed his hand.