Hugh James MacInnis Jr. died suddenly Sunday morning Jan. 3 at the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital where he was born. He was 74 and was a true son of the Island, as his name MacInnis, Gaelic for son of the island, said.

He was born Feb. 16, 1941 to Hugh James Sr. and Jessie MacInnis. They were both born in Canada; Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. They met in Boston and settled here, where he was working as James Cagney’s caretaker. Hughie, his sister, Jean, and their parents lived first in Chilmark and then in the Methodist Camp Ground in Oak Bluffs.

Hughie went to school in Oak Bluffs and then graduated from the second class to ever graduate from Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School in 1961. Voted most artistic male in his class, he designed the first seal for the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School. He used his artistic skills, painting only for pleasure and never for work. During his school years he had set pins in the bowling alley, opened scallops, and had become second class baker with Harold Walmsley, who baked for all the hotels.

After graduation he worked at Seven Gates Farm as a groundskeeper. Taking extended classes after high school graduation, he became a mechanic. He worked for multiple garages for 20 years, gaining his first license to drive trucks and semis in the process.

Hughie’s childhood dream was to drive big trucks and machines. Counting the years working for Tommy Rogers, White Brothers, and White Brothers Lynch Corp. he did exactly that for 36 years. He could make his truck stand up and dance. That was with a dump truck fully loaded, towing a 50-foot flatbed with a machine on it, sometimes down dark, unpaved roads or more often in traffic — some 80,000 pounds of truck.

His father’s advice, “to either be rich or a jack of all trades,” shaped his life. He could fish, scallop, fix anything, paint a house or a painting. He finished the inside of his own home. His artistic ability saw to it that any job he did was done neatly, with finesse, so that a lawn would not only be mowed but look beautiful. The gardening he did fed his family and library patrons as well.

He loved to fish, sail and be on the water. He had a lifetime marine list of all the creatures he had seen snorkeling and oh, how he loved to dance! Doo wop was his thing. He adored his many pets over the years and all animals, even wild ones, trusted him. His wife recalled seeing him hold a door mouse, a baby skunk, snakes and lizards. They all relaxed in his hands, knowing they were safe. He even had a crow come land on his shoulder one day when he was out scalloping. It was blowing a gale and the crow was having a hard time. It regrouped on his shoulder after five minutes and made it to shore.

He is survived by his wife of 38 years, Debby MacInnis; his sister, Jean Smith of Ravena, Ky., and her three sons and their families, Donald and Madeline Ben David and their daughter Erica of Berea, Ky., Russell and Sharon Ben David of Lexington, Ky., and Joseph and Teresa Smith of Ravena, Ky. He is also survived by an aunt, Dorothy Armstrong of Scottsville, N.Y., an uncle, Robert MacInnis of Brockport, N.Y.; two brothers in law and their families, Richard and Diana Snow, and Christopher and Marleigh Snow of Kennebunk, Me. and their three children, Christopher Thomas, Hannah, and Erin Snow.

He also left many members of his pretend-adopted family. He was predeceased by a dear one of them, Molly Brown.

A funeral will be held at Trinity Methodist Church in the Camp Ground in Oak Bluffs at 1:30 p.m. on Jan. 31, followed by a potluck reception at the Parish Hall immediately afterwards.

The date is subject to change (no later than Thursday morning, Jan. 28) if the weather is inclement to allow safe travel for those coming a long distance. If there is a change, the Chapman, Cole, and Gleason Funeral Home website,, and Gazette website will carry up-to-date information on Jan. 28. Funeral arrangements are under the care of Chapman, Cole, and Gleason in Oak Bluffs.

Food is welcome at the potluck. In lieu of flowers, please make a donation to the charity of your choice. Hugh loved nature, animals, children and people. He felt they were all his to take care of.

For a man who did not think he was important, he left an awfully broad wake to cross. The following poem Who Loves the Rain by Frances Shaw described him best:

Who loves the rain
And loves his home,
And looks on life with quiet eyes,
Him will I follow through the storm;
And at his hearth-fire keep me warm;
Nor hell nor heaven shall that soul surprise,
Who loves the rain,
And loves his home,
And looks on life with quiet eyes.