by John Walters
John G. Hubbell
A moment of tribute for John Hubbell, who passed away two nights earlier in the midst of his 94th (?) year. Mr. Hubbell was the author of the above book but also, more importantly, with his wife Punkin, of nine children: Woody, JP, Mary Louise, Joe, Margy, Bill, Andy, Katie and Mary Jeanne.
Katie is, of course, MH’s frequent contributor and resident scream, Katie McCollow, who is married to this site’s conscience (if only we followed it more often), Mike McCollow.
John Hubbell lived a damn-near perfect 20th-century life. He was a full-time writer at the Reader’s Digest and was able to raise the funniest family I know in a house on the shores of Lake Harriet in Minneapolis. I first met Mr. Hubbell in the summer of 2004, when I was living in the Twin Cities, and was made a welcome guest to a number of Hubbell happenings.
The best way I might describe Mr. Hubbell was as the eye of the storm. In a tempest of children, one funnier or louder or drunker or more opinionated than the next, John Hubbell, who had a jawline of granite, was the quietest one in the room. But he always had a smile on his face and a warm and gentle way about him.
In his final months, in a Minneapolis-area nursing home, Mr. Hubbell could be spotted in his “I’d Rather Be Watching Gilmore Girls” sweatshirt as one of his children snuck into his first-floor room window to spend time with him. Just this past week, all of the Hubbell kids gathered together one last time and an impromptu pizza party was held.
Mr. Hubbell had been working in his last years on two memoirs, one about his career (Writing for Wally; My Life With a Brilliant Idea) that has been published. A second memoir, about his brood, has yet to be finished (but will be). Here’s a passage from it:
“And the years passed and one by one they all grew up and graduated and got jobs and left home and fell in love and got married, and before we knew what was happening, it happened. Suddenly, Mrs. Hubbell’s dream house was much too big for the two of us, with its huge front porch, and its six bedrooms, its study, its immense living room with the fireplace, its large formal dining room, its family room and its huge kitchen/laundry room… soon we lived in a much smaller house in a pretty suburb, and those nine kids and our 30-plus grandkids and great-grandkids come often and visit and we often visit them. And there are many more joyous hellos than there ever were sad goodbyes.
If you visit Katie’s Instagram or Facebook pages, you’ll see some wonderful photos of the patriarch of this hilarious and happy family. Rest in peace, Mr. Hubbell.