“To be ignorant of what occurred before you were born is to remain always a child. For what is the worth of human life, unless it is woven into the life of our ancestors by the records of history?” ~ Marcus Tullius Cicero

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Thurman James Hubbard, Sr. (March 20, 1917 - March 2, 1987)

Thurman James Hubbard, the eldest surviving child of Willie and Carrie Hubbard, was born on March 20, 1917. The Willie Hubbard family was a fairly typical farming family of the era and region, neither very wealthy nor particularly poor, and it can be safely assumed that Thurman spent many seasons working alongside his father in the fields.

Thurman attended public school up to the ninth grade, but dropped out to pursue farming.  He enlisted in the army at age twenty-one, serving as a cook in the Panama canal zone from May 26, 1938 to August 13, 1940.  Thurman often explained that he was tricked into enlisting with promises of sunny beaches and beautiful native women; "the sunshine was liquid and the natives were black!"

Upon leaving the army, Thurman returned to Stedman, where he courted and married Ms. Lillian Maria Beazley, daughter of Miss Jennie and the late Capt. Harry Beazley, in a ceremony held in Miss Jennie's house, which stood in the woods behind Magnolia Baptist Church. The couple, along with Miss Jennie, settled in Fayetteville, where Thurman found work at the local Veterans Hospital as a cook and meat cutter through WWII and the late 1940's.  Jennie lived with Thurman and Lillian for the rest of her life, dying in 1984 at 94 years old.

During their time in Fayetteville two sons were born to Thurman and Lillian.  My father, Thurman James, Jr., (Jimmy) was born on St. Valentine's Day, 1943.  His younger brother, Robert Leslie (Bobby) arrived in June of the following year. The boys, both now deceased, were born sixteen months apart.

While the boys were still very young, Thurman and Lillian decided their best prospects for the future lay somewhere beyond Fayetteville; the family relocated to Winston-Salem sometime around 1950.  One of Thurman's younger brothers, Lewis, also moved to Winston-Salem around that time, and founded a company called Hubbard Realty.  One of the early commercial properties Lewis bought was a small neighborhood grocery store on Stockton Street, on the south side of town. Thurman and Lillian operated the store for several years, with Thurman cutting meat, and Lillian tending the counter. Granny, as Miss Jennie became known in later life, looked after the boys.

In 1957 Thurman and Lillian produced their last child, Jeffrey Lee Hubbard, and in 1958, purchased a home at 2645 Patria Street, around the corner from the little store on Stockton. Both older boys spent time working in the store, and sometime about 1960, Brenda Sue Coltrane, daughter of Vernon and Trudy Coltrane of Greensboro, found herself in the neighborhood, visiting her aunt Aline Murphy, who lived across the street from the Hubbards, and was sent to that store on an errand for the purpose of introducing her to the young man behind the counter, Jimmy Hubbard. (The set-up must have worked; I am the proof.)

Some time after moving to Winston-Salem, Thurman left running the store to Lillian and began building houses and doing home repair work, and became fairly prosperous for a while, but after several years deteriorating health forced him to slow down. He spent the remainder of his working life performing maintenance on his brother's rental properties.

In his spare time, Thurman liked fishing. He also planted a big garden at Jimmy's home on Hickory Tree Road, in the Arcadia community south of Winston-Salem, where I grew up. 

Thurman was a lifelong, fundamentalist Bible-believing, Southern Baptist Christian.  He was appointed a Deacon of the congregation, one of the proudest moments of his life, a few years before he died.

Sometime in early 1985, Thurman was diagnosed with lung cancer. After undergoing more than nineteen months of radiation, surgery and chemotherapy treatments, the cancer finally won. Thurman died on the evening of March 2, 1987.  I withdrew from Western Carolina University the following morning and headed for home, hoping for a last visit, not knowing it was already too late.

As of this writing there have been four successive generations of first born males in our family named Thurman James Hubbard. I, Jay, am the third and eldest living now. My son, Jayson, is the the fourth and last, so far.

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