One of Tipton’s Nonagenarians
Takes His Last Walk
Hugh Winston Stumbo, 91, of Tipton, IA, died Sunday morning, Feb. 5, 2023, after suffering a stroke the day prior. He was living his best life right up to the time of the stroke and for this his family is grateful.
Hugh was laid to rest in Shawver Cemetery during a private family burial on Feb. 6. A memorial service will be held at Fry Funeral Home on Saturday, Feb. 18, at 2 pm, followed by snacks in the Methodist Church dining room. In lieu of flowers, donations for Tipton Fire & Rescue are welcomed.
Hugh was born October 27, 1931, in eastern Kentucky. Son of Alpha Jean (Newsome) Williamson and Theron L. Williamson (born to Woodrow “Woody” Stumbo), Hugh enjoyed life in Appalachia with his cousins, friends, and extended family. Raised for a time by his grandmother, Phena Newsome, Hugh grew up knowing that family is what we make it to be and that family bonds are worth working for.
Hugh graduated from Martin High School in Martin, Kentucky, in 1949. His undergraduate studies were in Morehead State College (now University), after which he was drafted and served in the US Army. Hugh went on to receive a Master's Degree from Columbia University and worked as a public school teacher in Ohio (among other interesting odd jobs). He received his Ph.D. from The Ohio State University and served in various art education positions at The Ohio State University, the University of Georgia, the University of Iowa, and Illinois State University.
While at Morehead, Hugh met his wife, Phyllis Joy (Ernst) Stumbo, and they were married on February 5, 1955, in Olive Hill, KY. Hugh and Phyllis had four children, Mitchell Edward Stumbo, Lorelei Ann (Stumbo) Falsetti, Circe Lea Stumbo, and Andrew Wyeth Stumbo. In 1972, Hugh retired early from his professorial career in higher education to be a stay at home dad while Phyllis pursued her Ph.D. and her illustrious career in clinical dietetics. In the late 1970’s, Hugh founded the Hazel Lang Project and built a home for an otherwise homeless resident in Cedar County. He also co-founded the Handicapped Awareness Project (HAPI) and advocated for disability rights and awareness prior to the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act. As an empty-nester in 1988, Hugh started a construction business with his son, Andy, and spent the next thirty years in property management in Tipton, Iowa.
A fan of the Beatles, Bix Beiderbecke, and myriad of other musicians and musical genres, Hugh was a regular listener and contributor to Iowa Public Radio. He was driven by a deep commitment to democracy, philosophical inquiry, and environmental sustainability--often to the chagrin of his kids as they sat through lectures on Freud, John Dewey, and Jean Paul Sartre during the long drives between Cedar Bluff, Iowa, and Bloomington, Illinois. There is no doubt his Tipton friends also felt they were in a university lecture a time or two while drinking coffee with him at Hardees. (His children are sure that some of them may even have rolled their eyes a time or two … but they hope he was appreciated for his passion). Determined to live out his commitments in both big and small ways, Hugh was active with Phyllis in the Democratic party and regularly volunteered to help ensure free and fair elections in Cedar County. Hugh found the companionship of friends, acquaintances, and those on the opposite side of the political spectrum to be part of the rich fabric of life in Tipton.
Many in Tipton have been expressing how they will miss seeing his smile and wave as he walked his routes to protect himself from the heart disease and emphysema that had taken so many family members before him. He loved being outdoors and working the compost in his gardens and the soil in his yards to celebrate the circle of life. He was (in)famously involved in the Cedar Bluff a Fourth of July parade for decades, building elaborate, satirical, and/or funny floats with his family and his cousin, Daryl Luxmore of the Chicago area.
Hugh is survived by his children and their partners--Guy Falsetti, Dave Schmitt, and Sheley Dilando--nine grandchildren, and seven great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his parents, Theron (2007) and Jean (2008); wife, Phyllis (2017); and half-brother, Franklin Delano “Del” Stambaugh (2016).
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