Resident Spotlight: Hugh Gregory

The Sandersons


Humor, hard work, clean living, and having God in control seem to be the elements that have framed the extraordinary life of Hugh Gregory. Although stories of his life may invoke similar memories in people his age, Hugh defies the odds by continuing his zest for new learning experiences at 94 years of age. 

In 1930, at the beginning of the Depression, Hugh was born in a house that had cracks large enough for snow to fall on his bed. His father was a farmer, and the family lived in a tenant’s residence on his great-grandfather’s farm. However, the farm supplied the necessities for life. Hugh had loving and godly parents; he was the only child until a sister arrived seven years later. Life was considered normal in the rural community of Auburn, Mississippi, which was the ancestral home for the Gregory family. Located northeast of Tupelo, Mississippi, Auburn had stores, a school, and several churches.

When Hugh was four years old, his parents gave him a tricycle. The house they lived in had a long porch that was unrailed and two feet off the ground. Hugh was cautioned about riding too close to the edge. The family birddog, Dan, must have gotten the message and became Hugh’s constant protector. Never leaving his side, Dan would always manage to be between Hugh and the porch edge. Another time, Hugh went for a walk and was gone for several hours. It was almost dark, and his parents were frantic. They finally spotted the top of his head in the cotton field. Of course, Dan was with him and was bringing him home.

Hugh Gregory as a child

In 1936, a devastating tornado hit Auburn and surrounding communities. There were many deaths and much destruction. The Gregory home was spared. Hugh’s father, along with neighbors, used hand saws to clear the trees that were blocking the road to the most damaged area. Six year old, Hugh went along to help. The sights he witnessed remained an indelible memory for him. Hugh’s father, then, built a nice, new house for his family.

In 1943, at the age of 13, Hugh assumed management of the farm the family now owned when his father was conscripted by the military to build structures needed in WWII. Arising at 5:00 a.m., Hugh milked three cows, and helped to feed other farm animals. At 7:00, Hugh boarded the school bus for high school in Tupelo. While in high school, Hugh played basketball all four years; however, that was not all he was interested in. A girl, Mary Curbow, had been a friend his entire life, and Hugh was interested in taking it to a new level. One day while Hugh and some friends were sitting in Mary’s yard, they learned that WW II was over. This good news prompted shy Hugh to ask Mary to the movies. Hugh had been driving his father’s school bus since the age of 12, and this was the vehicle he planned to drive on their date. He even built a stool for Mary by the driver’s seat. Unknown to Hugh, his mother had alerted all the neighbors that Hugh was driving the bus to the movies. Imagine Mary’s surprise when she got on the crowded bus! But, Mary forgave him; they dated for three years and married at age 18.

Hugh wanted to be an electrical engineer. However, he delayed college and enrolled in an electrical school in Chicago. He returned home and worked for an electrical company for two years. Surprisingly, he was offered a job with the FBI working in classified documents, so Hugh and Mary moved to Washington, D.C. for two years. In 1951, even though employed in a government job, Hugh expected to be drafted. Instead, he volunteered and spent four years in the Navy. While on active duty, he served on USS Currituck which was an AV-7 Seaplane Tender carrying supplies to aircraft patrolling the shorelines of various countries. He received the rank of Petty Officer 3rd Class.

Following discharge from the Navy, Hugh returned home and worked for an electrical company. He had been offered the FBI job but did not want to live in Washington. Hugh also enrolled in college and completed three years of study in various institutions.

In 1959, Hugh began employment with Southern Airways as a station agent. He retired after 27 years, most of that time in management positions. After retirement, he and others started an electrical testing company (EMT). For 20 years, and until retirement in 2014, Hugh’s company supervised technicians in their various jobs.

Mary and Hugh Gregory
Mary and Hugh

Hugh and Mary were married for 75+ years. They were blessed with three children, seven grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. They lived in Southaven for 50 years and were members of the Carriage Hills Baptist Church where Hugh served as deacon and continues his membership. Hugh and Mary were fortunate to enjoy extensive travel including all 50 states and several countries.

In 2021, Hugh made the decision to move to Kirby Pines due to Mary’s declining health. Sadly, Mary died in 2023. “We lived a wonderful and charming life,” states Hugh.

Hugh continues to be involved in several activities at Kirby and is serving as a Wing Leader. Woodwork has always been a favorite hobby; he now spends time learning new things in the woodworking shop. “I appreciate all the people here and love all the new friends I have made. It is a great community to live in,” declares Hugh.

Written by Joan Dodson, Resident of Kirby Pines.